DENVER — CH2M HILL and the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) released a series of white papers to disseminate knowledge and industry best practices gained from the PWD Contamination Warning System (CWS) Demonstration Pilot Project. As part of a larger Water Security (WS) initiative, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded grants to water utilities in four major cities, including Philadelphia, to institute full-scale CWSs. This effort was to build upon what had already been developed by the EPA with the Greater Cincinnati Water Works.

“CWSs were initially designed to detect intentional contamination of distribution systems. While this remains an important objective, the utility pilots demonstrate that CWSs are also effective tools for routine management of distribution system water quality,” said Steve Allgeier, WSI Team Leader of EPA.

The designed and deployed pilot systems feature online water quality monitoring, optimized sampling and analysis, consumer complaint surveillance, enhanced security monitoring, and public health surveillance systems, along with consequence management.

“The EPA-funded projects have far reaching impacts as they help to ensure our nation has access to clean, reliable drinking water,” says Ken Thompson, CH2M HILL’s Intelligent Water Solutions Deputy Director.

The goal of the project, which began in 2010 and is now complete, was to create the components of a sustainable system capable of accurately detecting contaminants or events which could lead to contamination in real time. Using advanced monitoring technologies and enhanced surveillance, the CWS makes it possible to collect, integrate, analyze and communicate water quality issues, thereby minimizing the transport of contaminated water through PWD’s distribution system and providing PWD time to communicate and respond to a contamination event. The system’s dual benefits for daily operations and water security have produced operational advantages for PWD, including improved and streamlined customer complaint response through the integration of an advanced work order management system.

“The most obvious benefit of this project was the chance to work collaboratively with people from PWD, the City and throughout the region. Working meetings, tabletop sessions and drills, as well as a comprehensive functional exercise helped PWD improve its understanding, communication, and support for the new system,” said Gary A. Burlingame, Laboratory Director, PWD. “With the components of the system, we could accomplish many technical advances in isolation, but incorporating the system within the City’s operations and gaining cooperation from all stakeholders ensures the technology will have an impact if a contamination event occurred.”

PWD and CH2M HILL produced the white papers as part of the project’s final efforts to share as broadly as possible the knowledge and experience gained from the pilot with other water utilities. Visit to download the full series of white papers, and read the CH2M HILL Access Water blog by Ken Thompson, CH2M HILL’s Intelligent Water Solutions Deputy Director for more information.