The Potential for Health Risks from Intrusion of Contaminants into the Distribution System from Pressure Transients, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Standards and Risk Management Division

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In summary, it is concluded that transient pressure events occur in distribution systems; that during these negative pressure events pipeline leaks provide a potential portal for entry of groundwater into treated drinking water; and that fecal indicators and culturable human viruses 16 are present in the soil and water exterior to the distribution system. To date, all observed negative pressure events have been related to power outages or other pump shutdowns, although more research is needed to better characterize the types of systems most prone to these events. There is insufficient data to indicate whether pressure transients are a substantial source of risk to water quality in the distribution system. Nevertheless, mitigation techniques can be implemented, principally the maintenance of an effective disinfectant residual throughout the distribution system, leak control, redesign of air relief venting, and more rigorous application of existing engineering standards. Use of high-speed pressure data loggers and surge modeling may have some merit, but understanding the effectiveness of these tools requires additional research. More research is needed and this topic should become a priority for both the USEPA and industry-funded programs.



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