Automated Water Safety Sensor Units in Development

Sandia National Laboratories, CH2M Hill, and Tenix Investments Pty. Ltd.. announced a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership to develop an unattended water safety system that offers the unique capability of detecting currently unmonitored biological agents such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that could threaten water supplies.

Current real-time, remote water quality monitoring is limited to detecting more traditional water-quality parameters, such as turbidity or the presence of dissolved solids, pH, nitrates, and ammonia.

"We applaud this first major agreement announced by Sandia to develop technology with such strong potential for homeland security applications," said Carol Linden, deputy director of the Science-based Threat Analysis and Countermeasures for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Research and Development, part of the Department’s Science & Technology directorate.

"Our nation's critical infrastructures can be better-protected through commercialization of national laboratory technologies such as Sandia’s microfluidics-based detection technology, µChemLab ," added Sandia/California Vice President Mim John, who also leads the lab's homeland security efforts.

"CH2M Hill and Tenix have worked together in the past on water quality projects in Australia. With this project, they will deliver to the U.S. public a water safety system that is based on technology that Sandia developed," said Matt Simmons of Tenix. "CH2M Hill is very excited to be associated with developing a cost effective solution that protects our nation’s water and wastewater systems," said Tom Searle, president of CH2M Hill’s water business group.

"We are gratified that our earlier investment in research and development in this technology will be paying off for the nation’s security," said Larry Adcock of the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia Site Office.

Tenix, Australia’s largest defense and technology contractor, working with CH2M Hill, Inc., is funding research to develop, pilot, and demonstrate an Unattended Water Safety analyzer for use in potable water, reclaimed water, and wastewater systems. The analyzer is intended to add functionality and ease of use to Sandia‘s µChemLab detection capabilities.

Initial commercial units and wider deployment are anticipated from late 2005 to mid 2007. The analyzer will respond rapidly to chemicals, biological agents, and biotoxins; provide a low level of false alarms; and can be deployed as part of an integrated water and/or wastewater monitoring and management system.

The underlying technology was developed over the last decade at Sandia through investments by the Department of Energy in the first of its kind "Grand Challenge" to fund promising technological investigations. Sandia has since applied this capability toward increasing the safety, security, and sustainability of the nation’s water infrastructure. Sensor system development for water security is one aspect of Sandia’s broad based water initiative that also includes development of risk assessment methodology that has been used for over 90% of major U.S. cities.


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