THE MAGAZINE

Water Supply Systems Security

By Joe N. Smith

*****Water Supply Systems Security. Edited by Larry W. Mays; published by McGraw-Hill, www.mcgraw-hill.com (Web), 464 pages; $125.

Security professionals may need to understand their sector to protect it—no less for water supply systems—but there’s a limit to what they need to know. Woe to the physical security professionals who leaf through the thick Water Systems Supply Security. Quadratic equations and calculus formulas will scare off even the hardiest reader. In this case, readers’ gut feelings will be spot on.

It’s not that the book is bad. When the book stays true to its title, it can be quite good. Early chapters on a city’s water system design, contaminants to water systems, vulnerability assessments, and emergency response are practical and useful.

But the formulas arrive in chapter four, which deals with distribution systems, with a fury. Subsections on network hydraulic modeling, water quality models, and so on are more appropriate for mathematicians or physicists. For much of the next ten chapters, readers have to sift through mind-boggling graphs, charts, and formulas on arcane topics such as path enumeration, ion-specific electrodes used in monitoring raw water, and valve schemes. This information may well be excellent for engineers, but it far outstrips the knowledge required by most security professionals.

Two later chapters (12 and 14) are the best fit for security professionals, as they address security hardware and system components in detail. For example, one chapter comprehensively covers access control, CCTV, intrusion detection, and integration.

Chemical and biological contamination of typical water systems receive much attention. This material is beyond the ken of most physical security managers and is better suited for water quality engineers. In fact, if a later incarnation of this book appears, it should be split into two separate works: one on physical security, the other on water quality security.


Reviewer: Joe N. Smith is manager of security services for the Salt River Project in Arizona. He is a member of ASIS International.

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