NATO financesTechnion research to protect water supplies

Idea for project came following 9/11, and the use of anthrax as a biological terror agent.

ein gedi waterfall298.88 (photo credit: )
ein gedi waterfall298.88
(photo credit: )
NATO is financing research at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa on protecting water supply systems against biological and chemical terrorism. The researchers at the Technion's Grand Water Research Institute are integrating mathematical models for the placement of monitoring stations with technology able to identify and neutralize chemical and biological contaminants. The idea for the project came following the 9/11 attacks and the use of anthrax as a biological terror agent. Prof. Israel Schechter of the Faculty of Chemistry said: "In the wake of the discovery of al-Qaida documents and plans in Afghanistan, the FBI was alerted that the organization was planning a terror attack on water sources. It became apparent that water distribution systems in the US, Israel and the rest of the world's developed nations are totally exposed." Israel's Water Commission cofinancing the research, together with NATO, the Grand Water Research Institute and the Institute for Future Security Research at the Technion. Previously, chemical attacks on water supplies were considered very difficult to carry out because the contaminants would be quickly diluted. However Schechter identified a way in which a handful of a certain type of poison could be put into water sources and cause mass fatalities despite the dilution factor. He then began to develop a device to detect the chemical poisoning of water and neutralize it. Prof. Yechezkel Kashi of the Technion's Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, is working with Prof. David Walt of Tufts University in Boston to creating a sensitive scanner that can rapidly identify specific bacteria. The question of where to place the detection and identification devices was solved by Dr. Avi Ostfeld of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who initiated and manages the project at the Technion. With the cooperation of David Jackman, director of the water and sewage division at the Tel Aviv Municipality, Ostfeld built a mathematical model that simulates water flow and pressure, and contaminant movement for the city's 100,000 water lines. Based on the model, a location will be selected for a new monitoring station. The project, scheduled to be completed at the end of 2008, has been budgeted at 300,000 euros.