Significant drinking water contamination events pose a serious threat to public and environmental health. Water utilities often must make timely, critical decisions without evaluating all facets of the incident. The data needed to enact informed decisions are inevitably dispersant and disparate, originating from policy, science, and heuristic contributors. Water Expert is a functioning hybrid decision support system (DSS) and expert system framework that emphasizes the meshing of parallel data structures in order to expedite and optimize the decision pathway. Delivered as a thin-client application through the user's web browser, Water Expert's extensive knowledgebase is a product of inter-university collaboration that methodically pieced together system decontamination procedures. Decontamination procedures are investigated through consultation with subject matter experts, literature review, and prototyping with stakeholders. This paper discusses the development of Water Expert, analyzing the development process underlying the DSS and the system's existing architecture specifications. Water Expert constitutes the first system to employ a combination of deterministic and heuristic models which provide decontamination solutions for water distribution systems. Results indicate that the decision making process following a contamination event is a multi-disciplinary effort. This contortion of multiple inputs and objectives limit the ability of the decision maker to find optimum solutions without technological intervention.

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Published in Drinking Water Engineering and Science, v. 8, no. 2, p. 9-24.

© Author(s) 2015.

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science & Technology Directorate, provided funding for this project through a technology development and deployment program managed by The National Institute for Hometown Security (NIHS).