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"Water plays many essential roles in our lives and in our economies: maintaining public health and sanitation, producing food, protecting sensitive ecosystems, enhancing recreation and aesthetics, and playing a critical role in industry, energy production, and economic productivity.  All of these are potentially at risk should water supplies fail.  The challenges of maintaining water sustainability also are fundamentally important both to national security and global stability."

Deputy Director for Science and Technology, ORNL, October 2005)

Lake Picture

Key Research and Technology

  • Tools to address water infrastructure interdependencies
  • Screening technologies for the identification of unknown contaminants
  • Methods for detecting and monitoring contaminants in water
  • Sensors and early warning systems for water distribution and collection systems
  • Models for contaminant transport and distribution systems
  • Test and evaluation of sensors and biomonitors
  • Methods to enhance the use of robotics and visualization devices during evaluation of water infrastructure
  • Training that enhances preparedness, response, and mitigation to water system threats or attacks

Water Sustainability:

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) supports the Department of Defense in areas of Water Security and Sustainability.  Within ORNL, the Environmental Sciences Division (ESD) draws upon its successes in environmental management to develop new tools and technologies to address emerging and conventional threats to drinking water supply systems and wastewater infrastructure.  ORNL researchers have pioneered risk assessment methods, developed novel approaches for environmental remediation, performed studies to help set drinking water standards, developed and evaluated wastewater treatment options and designed and implemented water quality monitoring programs.  ORNL’s  extensive knowledge is now being applied to water security and sustainability.

The National Homeland Security Research Center oversees three major research areas:  Water Security; Rapid Risk Assessment; and Safe Buildings. 

The primary emphasis of Water Security is on water supply, treatment, and distribution infrastructures.  At ORNL, key research areas that address Water Security/Sustainability include:  contaminant detection and characterization; response and mitigation; and prevention and protection.  For wastewater infrastructure, ORNL developed a phased approach involving analysis of inflow and infiltration; technology evaluation and deployment; audits and assessment of real-time data; and hydrologic modeling.  The model addresses: 

● Source
● Treatment
● Distribution
● Inflow and Infiltration
● Discharge

Other services provided by ESD staff in support of the DOD Water Security and Sustainability Program includes:

● System Performance
● Audit and Assessment
● Technology Development
● Technology Evaluation