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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research 6 Recommendations for Future Research Directions Progress has been made in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) water security research program (see Chapter 4), but many important research questions and technical support needs remain. In Chapter 3, a framework is suggested for evaluating water security research initiatives that gives priority to research that improves response and recovery and/or develops risk reduction or consequence mitigation measures. The research should also produce tools with a reasonable likelihood of implementation and, where feasible, dual-use benefits. Based on this framework and the review of water security efforts already under way, two important water security research gaps are identified and discussed briefly in this chapter. In addition, short- and long-term water security research recommendations are made. The research recommendations are organized in this chapter according to the three long-term program objectives proposed in Chapter 5 emphasizing pre-incident, incident, and post-incident applications: (1) develop products to support more resilient design and operation of facilities and systems, (2) improve the ability of operators and responders to detect and assess incidents, and (3) improve response and recovery. Both drinking water and wastewater research priorities are addressed together within these three objectives to maximize research synergies that may exist. KEY RESEARCH GAPS The Water Security Research and Technical Support Action Plan (EPA, 2004a) set out a comprehensive guide for the EPA’s near-term research initiatives. Although the Action Plan was intended to provide a short-term (three- to four- year) research agenda, the previous National Research Council review (NRC, 2004) noted that several of the Action Plan projects represented long-term research questions not easily ad-
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research dressed in the original time frame. Therefore, the Action Plan provides a reasonable starting point for building the EPA’s future research program. Nevertheless, the short-term planning horizon of the Action Plan prevented consideration of two key subjects that are critical to a long-term water security research program: behavioral science and innovative system design. The committee recommends the EPA work in collaboration with other organizations to build research initiatives in these two areas. Behavioral Science The threat of bioterrorism presents new and different types of risks that are dynamic and pose difficult trade-offs, bringing about intellectual challenges and an emotional valence possibly more important than the risks themselves. Developing an effective communication strategy that meets the needs of the broad range of stakeholders (e.g., response organizations, water organizations and utilities, public health agencies, the public, the media) while addressing security concerns is clearly a high-priority research area. The EPA’s work on risk communication is focused primarily on the development of guidance, protocols, and training, and little emphasis has been devoted to interdisciplinary behavioral science research to better prepare stakeholders for water security incidents or to build confidence in their ability to respond. Behavioral science research could help address, for example, what the public’s beliefs, opinions, and knowledge about water security risks are; how risk perception and other psychological factors affect responses to water-related events; and how to communicate these risks with the public (Gray and Ropeik, 2002; Means, 2002; Roberson and Morely, 2005b). A better understanding of what short-term disruptions customers are prepared to tolerate may also guide response and recovery planning and the development of recovery technologies. Previous experience with natural disasters and environmental risks provides a basis for investigating and predicting human behavior in risky situations (Fischoff, 2005). Existing models of human behavior during other kinds of crises, however, may not be adequate to forecast human behavior during bioterrorism or water security incidents (DiGiovanni et al., 2003). Risk communicators consider empirical findings from psychology, cognitive science, communications, and other behavioral and social sciences to varying extents (Bostrom and Lofstedt, 2003). Although decision makers frequently predict panic and irrational behavior in times of
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research crisis, behavioral science researchers have found that people respond reasonably to such challenges (e.g., Fishoff, 2005). Given the urgency of terror risk communication, risk communicators are obliged to incorporate existing behavioral science research as it relates to water security risks. The EPA should take advantage of existing behavioral science research that may be applicable to water security issues, but this requires knowledge and experience in behavioral science research. Where gaps exist, the EPA will need to engage in interdisciplinary, rigorous empirical research to obtain the necessary knowledge. Innovative Designs for Secure and Resilient Water and Wastewater Systems Innovative designs for water and wastewater infrastructure were not addressed in the EPA Action Plan, but the topic deserves a place in a long-term water security research program. The EPA’s research mission has traditionally included the development and testing of new concepts, technologies, and management structures for water and wastewater utilities to achieve practical objectives in public health, sustainability and cost-effectiveness. The addition of homeland security to its mission provides a unique opportunity to take a holistic view of current design and management of water and wastewater infrastructures. Innovation is needed to address the problem of aging infrastructures while making new water systems more resilient to natural hazards and malicious incidents. The EPA should, therefore, take a leadership role in providing guidance for the planning, design, and implementation of new, more sustainable and resilient water and wastewater facilities for the 21st century. Disagreggation of large water and wastewater systems should be an overarching theme of innovation. Large and complex systems have developed in the United States following the pattern of urban and suburban sprawl. While there are clear economies of scale for large utilities in construction and system management, there are distinct disadvantages as well. The complexity of large systems makes security measures difficult to implement and complicates the response to an attack. For example, locating the source of incursion within the distribution system and isolating contaminated sections are more difficult in large and complex water systems. Long water residence times are also more likely to occur in large drinking water systems, and, as a result, disinfectant residual may be lacking in the extremities of the system because of the chemical and biological reactions that occur during transport. From a security perspec-
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research tive, inadequate disinfectant residual means less protection against intentional contamination by a microbial agent. A breadth of possibilities exists for improving security through innovative infrastructure design. Satellite water treatment plants could boost water quality. Strategic placement of treatment devices (e.g., ultraviolet lamp arrays) within the distribution system could counter a bioterrorism attack. Wastewater treatment systems could be interconnected to provide more flexibility in case of attack, and diversion devices could be installed to isolate contaminants. Box 6-1 describes some of these concepts in greater detail, and specific research recommendations are suggested in the following section. RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS: DEVELOP PRODUCTS TO SUPPORT MORE RESILIENT DESIGN AND OPERATION OF FACILITIES AND SYSTEMS Specific research topics are suggested here in two areas to support development of more resilient water and wastewater systems: (1) innovative designs for water and wastewater and (2) improved methods for risk assessment, including processes for threat and consequence assessments. Innovative Designs for Water and Wastewater Systems Innovative changes to water infrastructure will require long-term investment in research. Existing systems have been in place for more than a century in older cities. Thus, bold new directions will understandably require intensive research at the outset to produce a defensible economic argument for change. On the other hand, the EPA has the opportunity to develop innovative approaches that can be implemented almost immediately in relatively new, as well as planned, urban and suburban areas. The first step in research would be to enumerate the opportunities for innovation, recognizing the constraints brought about by the size, age, and complexity of existing water and wastewater infrastructures. A broad-gauge, economic analysis should follow that would quantify the costs and multiple benefits of these innovative designs (e.g., increased security, improved drinking water quality, enhanced sustainability of water resources). In addition, there is an implicit need for EPA research-
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research BOX 6-1 Envisioning New Water and Wastewater Infrastructures Three infrastructure concepts illustrate potential innovative approaches for improving the security and resilience of water and wastewater systems: (1) distribution and collection system interventions, (2) the use of distributed networks, and (3) the implementation of dual piping systems. Water distribution system interventions could include multiple points of treatment within the distribution system (e.g., UV disinfection, chemical addition) or effective inline monitoring and localized diversion, using multiple valves and interconnections for routing contaminated water out of the distribution system network. In wastewater collections systems, new designs might include realtime monitoring, interventions to isolate portions of the collection system should toxic or explosive constituents be detected (e.g., sensor-activated inflatable dams), and interconnections or online storage capacity for diversion, containment, and treatment. The “distributed optimal technology network” (DOT-Net) concept (Weber, 2002; 2004) includes a holistic approach to decentralization of both water and wastewater treatment. The premise is that advanced water treatment would be installed most economically at the scale of households, apartment complexes, or neighborhoods using POU/POE technology. These devices offer protection against chemical and biological agents that escape conventional water treatment as well as agents that may be added to the distribution system subsequent to treatment. An almost infinite number of infrastructure variations involving water and wastewater are possible, even including the localized processing of wastewater for energy recovery. An alternative concept of a dual water distribution system has been proposed to address water quality concerns in aging infrastructures while meeting demand for fire protection (Okun, 1997). Additional benefits could be gained by incorporating satellite and decentralized wastewater treatment facilities. In this concept, the existing water distribution system and storage tanks would be used for delivery of reclaimed water and for fire demand, and a new water distribution system would deliver potable water through much smaller diameter pipes (Snyder et al., 2002). The dual distribution system concept offers several security advantages. For example, fire protection would not depend upon the integrity of the potable water supply in the event of a terrorist attack. The installation of small diameter stainless steel pipes would reduce residence time in the system (and related water quality degradation) and also speed the recovery process from a chemical or biological attack. However, a dual distribution system might also make a contamination attack on the drinking water supply easier because less contaminant mass would be needed to produce a toxic effect.
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research ers to coordinate with the agency’s regulatory branch to validate the feasibility of the innovative concepts that are proposed. Each of the infrastructure concepts illustrated in Box 6-1 require far more research to become feasible. The recommendations below outline specific research topics that, if addressed, could improve the safety and sustainability of water resources in the 21st century. Disaggregation of Water and Wastewater Systems The “distributed optimal technology network” (DOT-Net) concept (Norton and Weber, 2005; Weber, 2002; 2004) hinges upon the feasibility of distributed treatment via point-of-use (POU)/point-of-entry (POE) devices installed at the scale of individual buildings or perhaps small neighborhoods. The corollary premise is that installation of expensive advanced treatment technology at the centralized water treatment facility is unnecessary when only a fraction of the service area outside a “critical radius” requires additional protection. Only a broad economic analysis of this concept has been published thus far for a hypothetical urban center, but the assumptions need to be verified for actual systems, particularly because of the unique characteristics of individual cities. In addition, far more research is needed on the utility management required to ensure the reliability of POU/POE devices in widespread implementation. Dual water systems have also been proposed to address aging infrastructure (see Box 6-1; Okun, 1997; 2005). As with the DOT-Net concept, long-term research is needed to determine the costs and benefits of constructing an entirely new paradigm for distribution system design. Research issues would include assessing the acceptability of reclaimed water for progressively more intense levels of nonpotable use (e.g., irrigation, toilet flushing, laundering), the acceptability and management demands of decentralized wastewater treatment facilities, and the net benefits to water security. In-Pipe Interventions to Reduce Exposure In-pipe engineering interventions (see Box 6-1) are deserving of research in a long-term water security research strategy. For example, research is needed to optimize the location of disinfection booster stations or to examine the effectiveness and feasibility of in situ ultraviolet (UV)
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research irradiation systems as a decontamination strategy. EPA research could also examine various pipe materials (e.g., stainless steel) and evaluate their benefits for security and sustainability relative to their costs. Infrastructure Designs to Enable Isolation and Interconnection Most large drinking water systems have the ability to isolate portions of their distribution systems during necessary system repairs, but security concerns provide a new impetus for rapid and effective isolation mechanisms. Research on innovative mechanisms to isolate or divert contaminated water in drinking water and wastewater systems would be useful. The EPA should identify these design options, research their costs and benefits (including dual-use benefits) and their feasibility both for existing systems and new infrastructure, and make this information available to system managers. Improved Risk Assessments Procedures A sound risk assessment process allows utilities to make better resource management decisions for enhancing their recovery capacity or security strategies to mitigate the consequences of an attack. The risk assessment process includes assessments of threat, consequences, and vulnerability. To date, most of the efforts to guide utilities in their own risk assessments have focused on vulnerabilities. Threat Assessment Water and wastewater utilities today are making resource management decisions related to security without adequate information about the nature and likelihood of threats to their systems. As discussed in Chapter 4, the EPA has focused their efforts on identifying contaminant threats without conducting similarly detailed analyses of possible physical and cyber threats. Both the nature and likelihood of these threats are needed for efficient allocation of resources at the utility level and within the EPA’s research program. Improved threat assessment would require the EPA and/or a consortium of water experts to work closely with the intelligence community and local law enforcement agencies. Other national and federal laboratory expertise within the Department of Energy,
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Department of Defense, and private-public community might be needed as well. Threat assessments for water and wastewater should be periodically reviewed to identify threat scenarios that should be added to the list and to remove those that are no longer a concern. The development of a threat assessment process for local water and wastewater utilities with current techniques used in other infrastructures would also be helpful, provided the threat information could be communicated to those who need it (ASME, 2004; Sandia National Laboratories, 2001). Consequence Assessment A consequence assessment should accompany the threat assessment within the risk assessment process. Consequence assessments would provide decision makers with information on the potential for fatalities, public health impacts, economic impacts, property damage, systems disruption, effects on other infrastructures, and loss of public confidence. Procedures for determining the expected consequences from an attack or natural disaster are not currently being systematically developed. As a result, water system managers do not have sufficient data to make decisions about the benefits of risk reduction relative to the costs. The development and application of a consequence assessment procedure would provide decision makers with information needed to decide whether to mitigate the consequences, upgrade with countermeasures, take steps to improve response and recovery capacity, and/or decide to accept the level of risk and take no further action. A fault tree analysis that includes, for example, options for redundant systems or contingency water supplies could provide vital information on whether to invest in security upgrades or less costly consequence mitigation strategies. Many of these approaches have already been developed for other infrastructures (e.g., Risk Assessment Methodology [RAM]-T for the high-voltage power transmission industry or RAM-D for dams, locks, and levees; see Sandia National Laboratories, 2001; 2002). A thorough review of other RAM methodologies could provide guidance for consequence assessment strategies that could be incorporated into the Risk Assessment Methodology for Water Utilities (RAM-W). The EPA has worked to develop the AT Planner tool to assist utilities in assessing the consequences from physical attacks (see Chapter 4). While AT Planner has been validated against actual blast test data for nonwater systems, there remains significant uncertainty in the applicability of the modeling for water security because it has not been validated
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research against the structures specific to those systems. Therefore, the ongoing evaluation of AT Planner by the EPA and select water utility operators should include an assessment of the applicability of AT Planner for each of the critical and high-consequence components of a water system. The EPA and water utilities should then consider whether any additional validation testing is needed to determine specific failure modes of relevant water system components (e.g., actual storage tanks, pumps, water conduits, chlorine tanks) and possible countermeasures. Summary of Research Priorities for Secure and Resilient Systems Short-Term Priorities Develop an improved understanding of physical, cyber, and contaminant threats to water and wastewater systems, especially focusing on physical and cyber threats. Communicate information on threats and consequences to water system managers through training and information exchange. Develop an improved threat assessment procedure for water and wastewater utilities that will assist local utilities with their security and response planning. Develop a process to assist local utilities in determining the consequences from physical, cyber, and contaminant attacks. Update the risk assessment methodology for water systems to incorporate the latest approaches used in other industries, including developing credible threat descriptions and identifying cascading consequences. Long-Term Priorities Develop innovative design strategies for drinking water and wastewater systems that mitigate security risks and identify their costs and benefits in the context of public health, sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and homeland security. These designs might include: In-pipe intervention strategies for drinking water systems,
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Disaggregation of water and wastewater treatment facilities to achieve dual-use benefits, and Designs that allow for interconnections and isolation. Evaluate the need to validate AT Planner against structures specific to water systems. Periodically review the EPA’s prioritized list of threats, contaminants, and threat scenarios to identify items that should be added to the list and remove items that are no longer a concern. Continue development of technology transfer/training programs so that utilities understand the value of the EPA’s products for both homeland security incidents and natural disasters and know how to utilize the tools to their full extent. Implementation of Priorities Some of the research recommendations to support more resilient design and operation of drinking water and wastewater systems lie outside of the EPA’s traditional areas of expertise. To support the Action Plan efforts so far, the EPA has relied heavily on expert contractors to conduct this type of work. The EPA should continue to seek the relevant expertise of other federal agencies and national laboratories in these future efforts. However, the EPA will need to consider how best to balance intramural and extramural research funding to carry out this research, while maintaining appropriate oversight and input into the research activities (see also Chapter 5). Increasing staff expertise in some key areas, such as physical security, will be necessary to build a strong and well-rounded water security research program to support more resilient system design and operation. RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS: IMPROVE THE ABILITY OF OPERATORS AND RESPONDERS TO DETECT AND ASSESS INCIDENTS Suggestions are provided in this section for future research that should improve the ability of operators and responders to detect and assess water security incidents. Specific research suggestions in the areas of analytical methodologies and monitoring and distribution system modeling are discussed below.
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Analytical Methodologies and Monitoring Expanding Existing Analytical Methods For some analytes of relevance to water security concerns, the available or approved detection methods are poor (e.g., some nonregulated analytes). More work needs to be done to expand existing methods to a broader range of analytes. For example, method 300.1 (EPA, 2000) covers only the common anions but could be extended to others, including toxic substances. The extension of existing methods to new analytes would allow a broader range of laboratories to expand their capabilities into the water security area. Screening methods using conventional gas chromatography (GC) or high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) should also be investigated. Modern high-resolution chromatography combined with high-sensitivity detection (e.g., electron capture, fluorescence) is a powerful, yet accessible tool. Protocols should be developed to make the best use of these widely available capabilities. Software will have to be developed to facilitate the documentation of normal, background signals (fingerprint-type chromatograms). This background information can then be used to detect anomalies. Final protocols would have to be tested thoroughly against priority chemical contaminants. Chromatographic finger-prints have been used to monitor water supplies for nonintentional contamination, so this line of research would provide a dual benefit (D. Metz, Ohio River, personal communication, 2006; P. Schulhof, Seine River, personal communication, 2006). Progress is being made with the protocol to concentrate samples and identify biological contaminants by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. Continued research, however, needs to be directed towards reducing the time and effort required to collect, process, and identify samples by automating portions of the protocol such as the concentration step. Such automated collection and sample processing systems would be especially valuable in response to security threats, when water samples could be channeled to existing or new detection technologies capable of onsite processing. The EPA should continue to expand the number of biothreat agents tested with the concentration/PCR protocol to include microbes other than spores, prioritizing test organisms that are both a threat to public health and resistant to chlorine (Morales-Morales, et al., 2003; Straub and Chandler, 2003). Continued testing of the concentration/PCR protocol should include various mixed suspensions of a target
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research The committee considers this a priority because of the difficulty and importance of the information sharing problem. Water-Related Risk Communication Training As the lead U.S. agency in water system security, the EPA should assume the responsibility for developing a national training program on water-related risk communication planning and implementation for water managers. This should be done in collaboration with the water and wastewater organizations, state government agencies, public health officials, health care officials, and others engaged in communication of risks during water-related emergencies. Decontamination Decontamination research is critical to improving response and recovery, and the products are applicable to address unintentional contamination events from natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, floods, earthquakes) and routine malfunctions (e.g., pipe breaks, negative pressures due to power losses). The EPA has numerous ongoing projects in this area that should be completed, but additional research topics are also suggested below. Addressing Data Gaps EPA decontamination research products released thus far have shown that fundamental physical, chemical, and/or biological characteristics of many threat agents of concern are not yet known. Therefore, additional laboratory research is needed related to the behavior of contaminants in water supply and wastewater systems and methods for decontaminating water infrastructure. For example, one research priority would be to develop inactivation rate data for all microbes of concern with both free and combined chlorine strategies, because both approaches are used in the water industry. Rate and equilibrium data for adsorption/desorption of contaminants on pipe walls is also needed, although the EPA could also take advantage of existing databases on structure-activity relationships to predict these behaviors. Long-term re-
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research search, perhaps in partnership with other Office of Research and Development units, could enhance our understanding of the fate, transport, and transformation of toxics in water and wastewater environments. Decontamination Strategies The EPA should build on its ongoing work in the area of decontamination and address gaps in the current knowledge base. For example, research is needed to examine readily available household inactivation methods for biological agents (including spore-formers), such as microwaving. The EPA should also work to further the development of innovative decontamination technologies that address important water security concerns. Research and development on new POU/POE technologies, such as superheated water devices, could help overcome operational disadvantages of the products currently on the market. Prioritizing Future Surrogate Research Surrogates are relevant to numerous water security research applications, including research on contaminant fate and transport, human exposure risks, and decontamination. Research is ongoing to identify surrogates or simulants for biological agents, to determine which surrogates are appropriate, and to determine the ability of typical drinking water disinfection practices (chlorination and chloramination) to inactivate those agents (see Chapter 4, Section 3.2). Much of the research has focused on Bacillus anthracis and other bacterial agents, but the EPA should determine if surrogates for research on biotoxins and viruses are needed and whether additional surrogates are needed for other bacterial agents. A viral simulant or surrogate would be helpful to examine virus survival in fresh water, drinking water, and sewage, as well as virus susceptibility to water disinfectants. Research in this area has relevance to viral bioterrorism agents and also has strong dual-use research applications because viral surrogates could facilitate risk assessment studies on natural viruses (e.g., SARS, avian influenza). Surrogate research is a laborious experimental process (see Box 4-1) that must be conducted in one of the few laboratories already authorized to keep and work with select agents. Considerable research is required to compare the select agent with candidate surrogates under the experimental conditions of interest. As discussed in Chapter 4, surrogates need not
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research mimic in all respects the agents they stand in for. For some important security or decontamination uses, it may only be necessary that they provide an appropriate bound on the characteristic of interest in the target agent (e.g., persistence, disinfectant sensitivity). Therefore, the EPA should carefully consider and prioritize the agents and the research applications for which surrogates are needed. The prioritization process for surrogates should consider the following: Which types of research could be greatly facilitated through the availability of surrogates? Which types of research with surrogates might have “dual-use” applications (i.e., could the properties of certain surrogates also be usefully extrapolated to other common organisms)? Which types of research should be done only with select agents? How closely should the surrogate properties of interest match that of the target organism? What are the costs and benefits to the research program associated with surrogate development versus use of the pathogenic agents? The EPA should engage a limited number of individuals (e.g., federal partners, academics) who are involved in similar research in this prioritization process. Lessons Learned from Natural Disasters Midway through the committee’s work, NRC (2005; see Appendix A) suggested the EPA take advantage of experience gained in the aftermath of Katrina so as to improve future response and recovery efforts for water security. While a hurricane caused this catastrophe, it is conceivable that a similar result might have occurred if the levees had been destroyed by terrorist explosives. Thus, New Orleans offered a living laboratory to study many aspects of the impacts of a disaster on water and wastewater systems of all sizes. Failure modes, infrastructure interdependencies, decontamination and service restoration strategies, the availability of alternative supplies, communication strategies, and the ability to service special institutions (e.g., hospitals) and special needs individuals could all have been examined in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. To the best of the committee’s knowledge, however, the EPA has not attempted to compile a knowledge base from this experience. As
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research time passes, it will become increasingly difficult to reconstruct what transpired. Other natural or manmade disasters, such as the earthquakes in California in 1989 and 1994 or the “Great Flood of 1993” in the Mid-west, or natural contamination events, such as the Milwaukee Cryptosporidium outbreak, may also offer opportunities to mine important data about the failure or recovery of water and wastewater systems, but detailed information on these earlier occurrences may be lacking. In the future, the NHSRC should be poised to seize opportunities for learning about response and recovery after major natural or man-made disasters affecting water or wastewater systems. Summary of Research Priorities for Improving Response and Recovery Short-Term Priorities Tools and Data for Emergency Planning and Response Determine strategic plans for managing and maintaining the WCIT/CAT databases, considering the likely uses and long-term goals for the databases. Develop and implement a strategy for evaluating the utility and usability of the response tools and databases, including stakeholder feedback and lessons learned during their use under “real-life” incidents. Convene a working group to develop research strategies for filling the data gaps in WCIT/CAT and other planned emergency response databases. Contingencies for Water Emergencies Complete the work in progress on contingencies and infrastructure interdependencies under Section 3.5 of the Action Plan. Test and evaluate the most promising innovative water supply technologies that enable or enhance the short- or long-term delivery of drinking water in the event of systemic failure of water systems. Analyze the positive features and those areas needing improvement prior to full-scale deployment. Conduct research on potential contingencies for failures of the “human subsystem.”
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Behavioral Sciences and Risk Communication Analyze factors that build trust, reduce fear, and prevent panic to improve overall communication strategies in a water-related emergency. Investigate the behavioral science research being conducted by the Homeland Security University Centers of Excellence and other federal agencies for applicability to the water sector. Pretest messages being developed by the Center for Risk Communication and analyze case studies and scenarios for effectiveness. Analyze the risks and benefits of releasing security information to inform the EPA’s risk communication strategies and its practices on information sharing. Fully integrate risk communication efforts into the overall risk management program and provide adequate resources that ensure these efforts remain a high priority in the EPA’s future water security research program. Conduct research to better understand how agencies will interact in a water-related crisis situation and determine what strategies will be most effective in encouraging and maintaining collaboration in planning and preparedness. Decontamination Complete the many decontamination projects in progress under Section 3.4 of the Action Plan. Develop predictive models or laboratory data for inactivation of bioterrorism agents in both free chlorine and chloramines that can be used in MS-EPANET and the TEVA model. Explore development and testing of new POU/POE devices that may overcome the disadvantages of existing devices. Examine readily available household inactivation methods for biological agents (including spore-forming agents), such as microwaving. Determine the costs and benefits of further research to identify additional surrogates, considering which agents under which conditions or applications should be prioritized for surrogate development research.
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Lessons Learned from Natural Disasters Use the remaining data from the experience of Hurricane Katrina to analyze the optimal response and recovery techniques (e.g., water supply alternatives, contingency planning, and infrastructure interdependencies) that would also apply to water security events. Integrate experience with decontamination of the distribution system in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to improve EPA guidance for water security decontamination. Evaluate risk communication strategies related to Hurricane Katrina or other past disaster events to determine if communication strategies related to drinking water safety reached the most vulnerable populations. Develop a post-event strategy for learning from future natural disasters affecting water systems. This strategy should support on-site assessments of impacts and interdependencies and evaluations of successes and failures during response and recovery. Long-Term Priorities Tools and Data for Emergency Planning and Response Continue to develop and maintain the WCIT/CAT databases according to the objectives set forth in the strategic database management plan. Incorporate a mechanism to provide on-going peer review of the data to meet its data quality objectives. Continue experimental and computational research to fill critical data gaps in WCIT/CAT, including research on the health effects of both acute and chronic exposure to priority contaminants. Contingencies for Water Emergencies Develop new, innovative technologies for supplying drinking water to affected customers over both short- and long-term water system failures.
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Risk Communication and Behavioral Sciences Develop a program of interdisciplinary empirical research in behavioral sciences to better understand how to prepare stakeholders for water security incidents. The EPA should support original research that will help address critical knowledge gaps. For example: What are the public’s beliefs, opinions, and knowledge about water security risks? How do risk perception and other psychological factors affect responses to water-related events? How can these risks be communicated more effectively to the public? Develop a national training program on water-related risk communication planning and implementation for water managers. Decontamination Continue laboratory research to fill the data gaps related to behavior of contaminants in water supply and wastewater systems and methods for decontaminating water infrastructure. Continue surrogate research based on the research prioritization determined in collaboration with an interagency working group. The EPA should also explore ways that this surrogate research could assist in responding to everyday agents or to other routes of exposure (e.g., inhalation, inactivating agents on surfaces). Implementation of Priorities The EPA has historically been a lead federal agency in understanding the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment and has a clear understanding of the practical concerns of the water sector. Thus, the EPA remains the appropriate lead agency to develop the tools for emergency response and to prioritize the research needed to fill the remaining gaps, with input from key stakeholders. The EPA is also well suited to develop a national training program on water-related risk communication and to evaluate lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and other past disaster events. However, innovative technology development research, such as the development of novel technologies for supplying water during system failures, should be conducted by other agencies,
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research university researchers, or firms with the greatest expertise. The EPA, instead, should focus its efforts on harvesting information on existing technologies, synthesizing this information for end users, and providing guidance to developers on unique technology needs for water security. Behavioral science research and evaluation research is more appropriately conducted by universities or other federal agencies (e.g., CDC) that have the necessary expertise to complete these tasks. However, the EPA still needs in-house behavioral science experts able to supervise and use this work to best advantage. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS In this chapter, recommendations are provided for future research directions in the area of water security. Two key water security research gaps—behavioral science and innovative future system design—that were not considered in the short-term planning horizon of the Action Plan are identified. In accordance with the committee’s charge (see Chapter 1), short- and long-term water security research priorities are presented in three areas: (1) developing products to support more resilient design and operation of facilities and systems, (2) improving the ability of operators and responders to detect and assess incidents, and (3) improving response and recovery. The EPA should develop a program of interdisciplinary empirical research in behavioral science to better understand how to prepare stakeholders for water security incidents. The risks of terrorism are dynamic and uncertain and involve complex behavioral phenomena. The EPA should take advantage of existing behavioral science research that could be applied to water security issues to improve response and recovery efforts. At the same time, when gaps exist, the EPA should support rigorous empirical research that will help address, for example, what the public’s beliefs, opinions, and knowledge about water security risks are; how risk perception and other psychological factors affect responses to water-related events; and how to communicate these risks effectively to the public. The EPA should take a leadership role in providing guidance for the planning, design, and implementation of new, more sustainable and resilient water and wastewater facilities for the 21st century. Given the investments necessary to upgrade and sustain the country’s water and wastewater systems, research on innovative approaches to make the infrastructure more sustainable and resilient both to routine and
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research malicious incidents would provide substantial dual-use benefits. The EPA should help develop and test new concepts, technologies, and management structures for water and wastewater utilities to meet objectives of public health, sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and homeland security. Specific research topics related to drinking water and wastewater, such as decentralized systems and in-pipe interventions to reduce exposure from contaminants, are suggested. Recommended research topics in the area of supporting more resilient design and operation of drinking water and wastewater systems include improved processes for threat and consequence assessments and innovative designs for water and wastewater. A thorough and balanced threat assessment encompassing physical, cyber, and contaminant threats is lacking. To date, the EPA has focused its threat assessments on contaminant threats, but physical and cyber threats deserve more attention and analysis because this information could influence the EPA’s future research priorities and utilities’ preparedness and response planning. Research suggestions that improve the ability of operators and responders to detect and assess incidents build upon the EPA’s current research in the areas of analytical methodologies and monitoring and distribution system modeling. In the short term, the EPA should continue research to develop and refine a first-stage RTMS based on routine water quality parameters with dual-use applications. Long-term research recommendations include the development of innovative detection technologies and cheaper, more accurate RTMSs. To support the simulation models in development, a substantial amount of fundamental research is needed to improve understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants in distribution systems. Based on the number of emerging technologies and agents of interest, the EPA should develop a prioritization strategy for technology testing to optimize the resources devoted to this effort. Recommendations for future research priorities to improve response and recovery emphasize the sustainability of tools for emergency planning and response (e.g., WCIT/CAT) and improving research on water security contingencies, behavioral sciences, and risk communication. The EPA should also evaluate the relative importance of future laboratory work on surrogate development and address data gaps in the knowledge of decontamination processes and behavior. So far, the EPA has not taken advantage of the many opportunities from Hurricane Katrina to harvest lessons learned related to response and recovery, and the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.
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Improving the Nation’s Water Security: Opportunities for Research Some of the research recommendations provided in this chapter lie outside of the EPA’s traditional areas of expertise. The EPA will need to consider how best to balance intramural and extramural research funding to carry out this research, while maintaining appropriate oversight and input into the research activities. Increasing staff expertise in some key areas, such as physical security and behavioral sciences, will be necessary to build a strong and well-rounded water security research program.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: