Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
John Bain, EPA, Washington, DC
In the event of a natural, intentional, or unintentional water contamination incident, a quick and effective response is crucial to limiting its impact on water systems and public health. Responding to a contamination event requires accurate information on the nature of the contaminant and how to properly treat it. The Water Contaminant Information Tool (WCIT) is a dynamic and valuable resource designed to provide this information to responders, and address new risks and unforeseen issues as they arise. WCIT is a secure, online database that contains vital information, such as analytical methods, drinking water and wastewater treatment processes, and medical information, on priority contaminants of concern for drinking water and wastewater systems. As such, this tool facilitates the dissemination of vital information that can be used to help communities prepare for, deal with, and recover from an incident. Here we report recent updates to existing contaminants in the database, additions of new contaminants into the database, and the plan for the launch of an updated version of WCIT that will be more user-friendly and accessible on mobile devices. WCIT is constantly updated with information on priority contaminants to help utilities and other users respond effectively and efficiently to drinking water and wastewater contamination events. These updates focus on adding new WCIT profiles on emerging contaminants of the greatest concern. For example, in response to blooms of dangerous cyanobacteria in recent years WCIT profiles were created for both microcystins and cylindrospermopsin to address their potential health risk in water systems. WCIT contains over 800 priority contaminant profiles currently, but some profiles only contain analytical methods. To address this issue other priority contaminant lists, such as the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL), and input from water sector experts are being used to help identify contaminants of the greatest concern and to add more detailed information to profiles. Lastly, WCIT is undergoing a facelift to streamline the user interface and support compatibility with mobile devices. All of these updates are aimed at keeping the tool modern to address current and emerging contamination risks and to help protect and improve the health of communities. Additionally, these updates will provide a more dynamic and robust tool for water sector responders to use in the event of a water contamination incident.