EPA Signs Agreements to Develop Early Warning Devices

The Environmental Protection Agency is joining in research agreements with three equipment manufacturers to develop early warning detection devices for water distribution systems.

Jul 1st, 2004

by James Laughlin

The Environmental Protection Agency is joining in research agreements with three equipment manufacturers to develop early warning detection devices for water distribution systems.

Since Sept. 11, a variety of companies have joined the race to develop viable technologies, recognizing that the ability to rapidly detect and identify unknown contaminants is critical to safeguarding the drinking water supply, treatment, and distribution infrastructures in U.S. communities.

The three companies involved in the EPA project are Hach, YSI and PureSense Environmental. Key research areas are detection and identification of contaminants, response and mitigation, and prevention and protection.

"Protection of America's drinking water systems is a critical element of EPA's mission. The agreements we are recognizing here are outstanding examples of how government and industry are working together to find ways to protect our water from contamination," said EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Steve Johnson. "We are excited about the prospect that these partnerships will help water utilities implement effective, new early warning systems for drinking water contamination."

The goal is to develop water quality sensor technologies that can be inserted directly into distribution networks. Associated software would be developed to interpret the readings and provide local water quality officials with a real-time alert of intentional or accidental drinking water contamination. Such a system would help utilities more effectively isolate and contain a problem before it migrates through the water distribution system.

Under the Federal Technology Transfer Act, this type of Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) allows private industry and state/local governments access to federal laboratories to exchange EPA personnel, equipment or services for a particular project. The program's goal is to more efficiently collaborate to move technology into real world applications.

Another example of a CRADA for the water industry is a project underway to develop treatment technologies for arsenic removal at small drinking water systems.

In the past, legal and institutional barriers have hindered government/industry partnerships from developing and marketing technologies for preventing, controlling, or cleaning up pollution. Many companies, struggling to translate their ideas into innovative technologies, have been held back by lack of access to scientific experts in a particular field or to highly specialized equipment.

For more information on EPA's National Homeland Security Research Center, visit the website at: www.epa.gov/ ordnhsrc/index.htm. For specific questions on the research agreements, contact Jonathan Herrmann at herrmann.jonathan @epa.gov. To learn more about CRADAs, visit the website at: www.epa.gov/osp/ftta.htm, or contact Laurel Schultz at schultz.laurel@epa.gov.

James Laughlin, Editor

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