A Distributed System for Water Quality Monitoring
This material is based upon work supported by the United States
Environmental Protection Agency under Award Number EPA 05 X-83232501-0.
The goal of the project is to produce an automatic Contamination Alert System (CAS)TM, or CAS-300, to detect E. coli and total coliform bacteria in water. These bacteria are common in the environment and would be normally be easily killed by the chlorine disinfectant found in water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that water systems be sampled monthly from one to 480 locations in each system to check for the existence or absence of the bacteria. If the bacteria are found, it may indicate that the water has lost its residual chlorine, or that there is a breach in the pipe that is allowing groundwater to enter the system. The EPA also requires that the same test be performed on the water at beaches that are open for public swimming.
The CAS-300, an automatic, lab-in-a box system, is designed to perform the test automatically and unattended. The encrypted results are then sent to a central monitoring location via the Internet.
The system is designed to eliminate the need for a person to collect the sample and take it to a laboratory, and will offer results in 18 hours. The system can be located in many different places, from the basements of schools, hospitals or public buildings throughout a city to a shed at a beach. The contamination data can be displayed on a city map as contour lines to allow quick analysis.
The project will deliver a prototype instrument that will automatically measure coliform bacteria and free chlorine residual in drinking water in real-time, providing water system managers the ability to monitor and rapidly respond to alert situations.
The CAS-300 unit is expected to prove to be a less expensive and more efficient method of obtaining E. coli and coliform bacteria test results. As the EPA currently requires monthly E. coli tests at approximately a half-million locations around the nation, there are potential sales of that many systems in the United States alone. OrthoSystems, Inc's test reagent and laboratory procedures have been approved by the EPA. The company's goal is to have a working prototype by May, laboratory testing completed by July, EPA
approval by December and commercialization of the product by March 2008.
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