Israel's Holistic Approach to Water Security: Protection and Detection

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By Dovev Lewinsohn, CEO Whitewater Security

In response to both terrorist acts and increasing natural disasters & contaminations in the nation's water supply, the issue of Water Security has come to the forefront of water utility manager's concerns. The EPA and ISO are currently working on standards for water security, but in the meantime, many worldwide utilities and water companies have turned to Israel for its expertise in both water management capabilities and security tactics, in order to tackle the issues of water security.¹ In the last issue of WaterWorld Water Security Newsletter, we saw that Israel's approach to water security is a holistic one, consisting of five pillars supporting effective water security: prevention, protection, detection, situation & crisis management, and recovery. In that issue, the topic and strategies of prevention were addressed. Today, as part of this four-part series, we will look at both protection and detection.

The Second Pillar of Water Security: Protection
As discussed regarding prevention, a risk assessment should be taken of all the water facilities serving major populations. The utility manager then has the information dictating exactly where his systems need protecting, and to what degree. The protection strategy combines two elements: standard physical security systems and water-specialized protection systems. Physical security should include devices such as video (CCTV and VMD) to constantly monitor the facility; electronic and virtual fences to prevent intrusion; access control to stop intruders and monitor the location of personnel; and others. Water-specialized protection systems should include security valves which will both keep contamination from spreading; underground sensors to make sure water supplies are not sabotaged from below; as well as hydrant locks; and others. Employing these protection strategies greatly reduces the intrusion and contamination vulnerabilities associated with any facility.²

The Third Pillar of Water Security: Detection
After evaluating risk and putting initial measures in place to protect the water supply, a utility manager has done everything possible to prevent a contamination. However, unforeseen factors and problems in connected facilities present a danger, and a reliable contamination detection system is crucial. In the face of a problem that has the potential to drastically affect major populations, rapid and reliable detection can greatly reduce response time and enable effective action, minimizing infrastructure damage and danger to human life.

The ideal detection systems contain two channels of monitoring, one is an Event Detection System (EDS) and the other is a chemical, biological and radioactive (CBR) contamination detection systems.³

The EDS is a sophisticated real-time event detection system that analyzes combined levels of parameters such as pH, chlorine, turbidity and a variety of others, and provides alerts for potentially hazardous water anomalies.3 Such a system employs software and algorithms to incorporate personnel input and provide the most accurate alarms. In addition to providing necessary alarms quickly and reliably, an EDS should also have capabilities of reducing false alarms. Recently, one Israeli utility faced a serious challenge due to large amounts of noise in the data combining all the different water quality parameters: the previous SCADA system generated large amounts of false alarms, to the order of 3,000 per year at one facility. Implementing an EDS was absolutely necessary for this utility, both to save money and time on investigating non-events, and more crucially, not to develop a lackadaisical attitude toward alerts.

In order to detect all potential contamination events, CBR contamination detection systems are necessary. These systems consist of advanced technologies that monitor the water on-line for chemical, biological or radioactive substances, which might be missed if relying only on standard parameter detection. The EDS and the CBR contamination detection systems are placed according to an optimization model and complement each other, such that the EDS creates alarms for elements detected by the CBR system.4

In combination with prevention, protection and detection, holistic water security must also incorporate situation management to minimize the damage once a contamination or crisis is detected. Situation management will be the focus of the next part of our series on the Israel Holistic Approach to Water Security.

References
1 http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=21041
2 http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/guide/
3 http://www.epa.gov/watersecurity/pubs/guide_watersecurity_securityinitiative_interimplanningpdf.pdf
4 http://www.epa.gov/nhsrc/pubs/600r09141.pdf

Additional References
http://www.iwahq.org/Home/Networks/Specialist_groups/List_of_groups/Water_Security_and_Safety_Management/
http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1306

WaterWorld Online, May 2010

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