National Panel of Water Security Experts Underscores Threat to Nation's Drinking Water Supplies

Industry Leaders Tout Water Monitoring as Viable Solution for Municipalities

A panel of the nation's top water security experts today cautioned public utility officers from around the country about ongoing physical, chemical and biological threats to public drinking water supplies and predicted new requirements for expanded water testing and monitoring.

The "Water Security Monitoring" panel convened by the Hach Company, a global source for aqueous analytical systems and solutions, at the American Water Works Association Water Quality Technology Conference and Expo in Nashville, Tenn., discussed threats to and the security of public drinking water supplies.

Top industry experts on the panel were questioned by audience members about potential threats and plans of action. The panel--including leading engineers, consultants, environmental program managers and a retired Center for Disease Control executive -- underscored the importance of practical solutions including intensive and frequent water monitoring, physical security and emergency response plans in all water districts.

"Due to recent current events and threats to the nation's water supply, we are hosting this panel to raise awareness among water suppliers about the potential threats and how best to handle them," said Terry Engelhardt, a drinking water specialist with the Hach Company in Loveland Colorado. "Water systems of every size across the country need to be vigilant and prepared for deliberate attempts to contaminate water systems."

Audience members repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of guidance and clear direction from government agencies. Referring to the oft-cited, "dilution is the solution to pollution," Dr. Irwin Pikus, a former member of the President's Commission on Water Systems Security, said, "This approach is valid for large sources, but far less so for other parts of the water distribution system. Regardless, it is important to be mindful of the severe psychological impact that even a relatively small incident can induce."

Panelists noted that promising new technologies to detect a wider range of potential contaminants are still several years from commercialization, and urge attendees to more frequently monitor traditional parameters to identify sources of contaminant threats.


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