Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Contribution to mitigate the threat of public water contamination

Drinking water infrastructures are vulnerable to deliberate contamination, which can have far-reaching consequences for public health and the economy. A European project developed a comprehensive approach to rehabilitate a drinking water system after a deliberate contamination.
Contribution to mitigate the threat of public water contamination
Public water infrastructure such as tanks and pipes are easy targets for terrorist attacks using chemical, biological or radioactive contaminants. This would not only cause direct harm to end-users, but could also create social disorder through the interruption of water supply to the public.

An EU-funded project called SecurEau developed an early warning system to minimise the public impact of such an attack. It has also created tools to rapidly locate the source of contamination and its spreading and ways to clean the water distribution system, including the inner walls of the pipes.

To develop the early warning system, researchers tested a wide range of new sensors to detect any significant changes in water quality, and advanced mathematical models to optimise the position of those sensors in the water network. They also looked at methods to identify the source of contamination.

Many cleaning and decontamination methods were then tested to find the most effective approach for reservoirs and pipe walls. Approaches to the accurate and safe handling of decontamination waste were also developed.

The SecurEau team used their results to generate a final model and decision tool (which can be appended to the obligated water safety plan) for dealing with contamination. These steps will not only protect against future contamination events, they will also provide improved monitoring and every-day management of water distribution infrastructure.

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