Water Quality Surveillance and Response System Primer for Distribution Systems

EPA’s Water Security Division has published a new Water Quality Surveillance and Response System Primer.  Referred to as SRS (Surveillance and Response System), this process “…provides a systematic framework for enhancing distribution system monitoring activities and using the collected information to better manage the system.”  One application of an SRS is monitoring for natural, accidental or intentional contamination incidents, such as:

  • Source water contamination, including chemical spills and algal blooms
  • Backflow through service connections, hydrants and other access points
  • Contamination at storage tanks and reservoirs
  • Cross-connections with non-potable water, and
  • Infiltration of contaminated water into the distribution system during low pressure events

An SRS also provides substantial benefit to routine operations and water quality management. The real time data generated by an SRS provides a means of identifying emerging water quality incidents, such as low chlorine residual levels, nitrification, rusty water, and taste and odor episodes.  Early identification of these incidents can provide sufficient time to respond and implement corrective action.
Typically, an SRS can be grouped into two operational phases, surveillance and response.  The surveillance components are designed to provide timely detection of water quality incidents in drinking water distribution systems and include:

  • Online Water Quality Monitoring;
  • Enhanced Security Monitoring, Customer Complaint Surveillance; and
  • Public Health Surveillance.

The response components include Consequence Management and Sampling & Analysis, which support timely response actions that minimize the consequences of a contamination incident.  To learn more about SRS and to download a copy of the Primer, please visit the Water Security Division’s webpage HERE.