The piped supply of completely safe, hygienic drinking water in sufficient quantities is an infrastructure fixture which is taken for granted in Germany. A possible impairment of the drinking water supply due to natural disasters or accidents, or due to terrorist attacks or political extremists cannot be ruled out. The joint project currently being con-ducted titled “Protecting drinking water supply with regard to CBRN scenarios (STATuS)” is being sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) within the programme "Research for civil security" as part of the German government’s High-Tech Strategy. This project aims to make a major contribution to raising security levels to protect the population against attacks on the water supply network with chemical, biological and radioactive substances (CBRN agents).
Suitable prevention and defense strategies are elaborated based on an analysis of the dangers and risks. To discover attacks, online detection processes are being developed for these agents so that detailed information can be obtained by positioning the relevant monitoring devices at suitable positions throughout the distribution network. Furthermore, all the structural facilities connected with the water supply should be protected to the greatest possible extent against external influence by interconnected alarm systems. Based on analyses of the network structure, suggestions for structural improvements are put forward with the objectives of lowering the vulnerability of the distribution network and simultaneously minimizing the extent of any damage should contamination occur. In addition, the efficiency of conventional treatment technologies in processing such polluted raw water is being investigated. If contaminated drinking water has to be discharged after an attack, it usually ends up in sewage treatment plants or in receiving waters. For this reason, the cascade effect of contaminated water is being examined on both the biological purification performance in sewage plants and on ecosystems in water.
These technical studies are accompanied by a socio-economic consideration of attacks on the drinking water supply. The total expected damage to the national economy is modeled in line with different attack scenarios and a cost benefit analysis is conducted with regard to possible defense measures. The acceptance among the population of an increase in the price of water in return for greater protection against terrorism and natu-ral disasters is also being examined.
German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)