2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:00 PM


BARKER, Mark W.1, GIARDINO, John R.2, JORGENSEN, William R.3, REGMI, Netra R.4 and VITEK, John D.1, (1)Hydrologic Science Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-1113, (2)Depts. of Geology & Geophysics and Geography and Hydrologic Science Program, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-1113, (3)Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, 77843-1113, (4)Dept. of Geology & Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-1113, mwbarker0@lycos.com

Terrorists have well-developed toolboxes, which are growing. The traditional tools of terrorism are well known, but unfortunately, they are being expanded into less known, subtle articulated threats. Water, the universal solvent, can be used to introduce and spread chemical, biological, and radiological threats through various pathways of the hydrological system. Potential exists for contamination events via clouds, precipitation, streams, lakes, springs, wells, domestic water and wastewater infrastructure, groundwater and coastal waters. These potential input points are pathways for the introduction of toxic substances into the hydrological system. Water can serve as the transport medium for spreading this type of terrorist threat. Also, water impounded by dams can be released through planned breaching of the structure and cause extensive, rapid flooding downstream. These acts of terrorism can occur at varying spatial and temporal scales. Unfortunately, understanding the potential use of the hydrological system as a terrorist tool is a major gap in knowledge. Fresh water is needed for irrigation to maintain many crops for human consumption and in every manufacturing process to produce consumer goods. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security and various US governmental agencies are beginning to develop strategies for response and remediation in an effort to minimize the chaos that will occur when the fresh water supply is tainted. The concept of protection is not simple because of the open canals in the southwest that deliver water into deserts for people and plants, the size of the drainage basins that collect water to meet human needs and the interconnectivity of surface water and groundwater between drainage basins. Creating a plan of protection, response and remediation of the hydrological system requires knowledge of Earth systems to develop a probability of threat perspective. The engineering geologist is accustomed to minimizing and remediation of the impacts of hazards. Based on past experiences, we have developed a protocol toolbox that operates from a probability of threat concept to carry out vulnerability assessments of the hydrological system that will lead to systematic response and remediation.