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New high-tech security planned for the New York's sprawling upstate water supply system aims at immediate detection of any unusual chemical or biological activity.
"We want to make it so sophisticated that it can be triggered by any strange biochemical agents that are introduced into the water supply," said Charles Sturcken, chief of staff for the city's Environmental Protection Department.
"It's critical that you must enhance security," he said. "Without the city's water supply, there's not much of a city."
The 2,000-square-mile, 19-reservoir system, already on heightened alert since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, will add the high-tech equipment under a $30 million security boost.
The department, which oversees the watershed and reservoirs, has signed a deal with the Army Corps of Engineers that will design much of the security system and contract with federally licensed firms for implementation.
Sturcken called the Corps of Engineers "the best in the country or the best in the world at supervising very large security issues at certain installations."
In addition to the high-tech improvements, the $30 million will allow for hiring more security officers and improving fencing and lighting around the reservoirs.
Environmental Protection Department cops are already working with local police departments to patrol the far-flung perimeter of the system that can hold up to 565 billion gallons of water.
Among other measures, officers with night-vision goggles are stationed on boats and the city has cut off access to the water barring fishing, boating and hunting at the reservoirs.
But some spots still need security to be upgraded to "the proverbial Fort Knox status," Sturcken said.