Israel's Holistic Approach to Water Security: Situation and Crisis Management

Nov. 20, 2010
[WaterWorld Online] In response to increasing acts of terrorism, natural disasters and contamination in water supplies worldwide, the issue of Water Security has become a major concern for water utility and facility management...

By Dovev Levinson

In response to increasing acts of terrorism, natural disasters and contamination in water supplies worldwide, the issue of Water Security has become a major concern for water utility and facility management. The EPA and ISO are currently developing standards for water security1, 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.2 In the previous issues of WaterWorld's Water Security and Instrumentation Newsletter, we saw that Israel's holistic approach to water security incorporates five pillars supporting effective water security: prevention, protection, detection, situation & crisis management, and recovery. Today, as part of this four-part series, we will look at the central issue of situation and crisis management--which can minimize the damage once a contamination or crisis is detected--and the key components for a water facility to consider.

The Fourth Pillar of Water Security: Situation and Crisis Management
According to the ISO International Workshop Agreement 6 (IWA6), lead by the Standards Institute of Israel, a framework for the management of water crises will address, among other things, "optimized modes, including for prediction of and dealing with dissemination of contamination in water system…, and best practice for decontamination" along with "security and continuity management, communications, interoperability, training and competence."3

In order to reach these levels of optimized modes and security, an ideal crises management system will include all the elements described below.

Effective management relies on complete, real-time information from monitors and devices throughout a water facility. This includes internal monitors such as water monitoring devices (CBNR water quality monitoring), physical security systems, SCADA, ERP, and GIS, along with external data such as customer feedback data (CRM), public health data, lab reports, police information, and GPS data. In many water utilities, it is difficult or impossible to see the integrated picture of all these components, as each one serves a different part of the facility. Israeli experts have learned that it is necessary to create a unified information system, thereby enabling plans and actions that account for the risks and widely varying warning signs from each component.

The data in the system must be presented in a clear manageable way, ideally in a single, user-friendly interface, to minimize human error and increase competence in decision-making.

Technology for accurate predictive modeling is important, presenting the best possible action(s) to stop the spread of contamination.

Clear procedures are necessary for response to any crisis. This is an integral part for all water utilities; in fact, the Bioterrorism Act requires that all utilities serving over 3,300 individuals must certify completion of an Emergency Response Plan following a vulnerability assessment.4 In addition, plans should be digitalized and compiled for access from anywhere, so that individuals can immediately retrieve the right knowledge to attend to a potential crisis situation. Swift and decisive action(s) can, and often do, mean the difference between an internal incident and public contamination.5

Control of physical parameters, such as valves and communications, enable the operator or manager to remotely stop or direct and control water flow, as necessary.

Finally, records of all alarms, actions and recommendations must be kept, to facilitate continuous improvement of all procedures. Continuous improvement through a 'Plan-Do-Check-Act' model is a central concept in the IWA's 6 methodologies.6

Israeli water experts and policy and decision makers have learned that with these pillars in place, a water situation or crisis can be quickly managed, and that even the best plans are can be more effective by incorporating the above ideas.

Unfortunately, there remain situations in which the public could be at risk. In the next part of our series, we will look at how dangers can be minimized and recovery optimized in the event of a public water contamination.


Additional Resources

Related Articles
Part 1: Israel's Holistic Approach to Water Security: First Stage -- Prevention
Part 2: Israel's Holistic Approach to Water Security: Protection and Detection

About the Author
Dovev Levinson is CEO of Whitewater Security.

WaterWorld Online, November 2010


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