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Sandia's CANARY software protects water utilities from terrorist attacks and contaminants
Date:7/25/2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Americans are used to drinking from the kitchen tap without fear of harm, even though water utilities might be vulnerable to terrorist attacks or natural contaminants.

Now, thanks to CANARY Event Detection Software an open-source software developed by Sandia National Laboratories in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public water systems can be protected through enhanced detection of such threats.

"People are excited about it because it's free and because we've shown that it works really well. We would love to have more utilities using it," said Regan Murray, acting associate division director of the EPA's Water Infrastructure Protection Division at the National Homeland Security Research Center.

The software tells utility operators within minutes whether something is wrong with their water, giving them time to warn and protect the public. And it's improving water quality by giving utility managers more comprehensive real-time data about changes in their water.

CANARY is being used in Cincinnati and Singapore, and Philadelphia is testing the software system. A number of other U.S. utilities also are evaluating CANARY for future use.

Sean McKenna, the Sandia researcher who led the team that developed CANARY, said people began to pay attention to the security of the nation's water systems after 9/11.

McKenna and Murray said CANARY could have lessened the impact of the nation's largest public water contamination. In 1993, a cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Milwaukee hastened the deaths of dozens of citizens, made more than 400,000 residents ill and cost more than $96 million in medical expenses and lost productivity, according to reports about the tragedy.

"If you don't have a detection system, the way you find out about these things is when people get sick," Murray said.

Sandia, a national security laboratory, had worked on water security before the 9/11 attacks. So when the EPA was looking
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Contact: Heather Clark
hclark@sandia.gov
505-844-3511
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories
Source:Eurekalert

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