Water "Fingerprints" Will Enable Detection of the Contamination Source

While fingerprints and DNA are commonly used to catch criminals, a data bank of 'water fingerprints' is now being developed to locate the source of water contamination. The Mekorot Water Company has begun using a new system developed in Israel that can detect water contamination, store data that will detect the water source - and thus enable faster and more efficient location of the contamination.

The system is intended to detect both accidental and terrorism-related contamination. Most of the detection technologies available today are unable to give real-time warning - so by the time contamination has been uncovered, it is already too late to prevent injury.
A few months ago, pesticides seeped into drinking water supplies in Tsafed and the Kiryot. The contamination was only detected once it had already reached people's taps. A similar event occurred a decade ago when ammonia was mistakenly spilled into the National Water Carrier. Luckily in this case no injuries were reported.

The new system, developed by the Israeli Whitewater Group headed by Ori Yogev, is called BlueBox. It works by continuously monitoring water systems and has the ability to rapidly detect different chemical contaminants. The system builds a water fingerprint for every water source in which it is installed, based on the chemical composition of the water. As water composition differs according to the area where the water originates (for example, the rock type through which the water percolates and other elements) or their source (underground aquifers, water from the Kinneret, desalination or other sources), keeping a unique water fingerprint proves extremely valuable.
The BlueBox system is currently undergoing trials and will be presented this week at the WATEC exhibition. Mekorot claims the system will enable the building of an extensive data layout allowing it to detect contamination in the water system and take corrective action more effectively.

Mekorot Chairman Alex Wiznitzer said: "Mekorot is prepared for every eventuality and is increasing its range of monitoring devices with innovative biological and technological inventions". According to the company's CEO Shimon Ben Hamo: "The testing of the new water monitoring system is an additional layer in our many efforts to secure the quality of drinking water we provide to the whole of Israel".

"Yedioth Achronot", 13/11/11
Amir Ben David