Universities Undertaking Water Resources Security Research: Issues for Consideration

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Terrorists’ acts have demonstrated the vulnerability of infrastructure systems. Until and unless the root causes leading people to undertake these terrorists’ acts are addressed and mitigated, one can expect that attempts to inflict major damage and loss of life will continue in the future. It is clear that research is absolutely essential to identify and develop new and innovative means to harden existing water resource infrastructure systems in order to reduce their current vulnerability to such terrorists’ acts. Research is also needed to enable new infrastructure to be designed and built in order to minimize the potential for being vulnerable to such terrorist acts. It is also clear that universities in this country may have a major role to play in carrying out this needed and necessary research. A major role of the university in society is to generate new knowledge and disseminate this knowledge for the benefit of society broadly defined. During and following World War II, many research universities undertook and carried out classified research determined to be in the national interest. During the Vietnam War, public pressure led to the discontinuance or separation of a number of these activities from the sponsoring universities. In the past, the graduate students and faculty members who performed classified research at universities were typically U.S. citizens. At present, many faculty members and graduate students, especially in engineering and science, at research universities are foreign nationals. One immediate issue is who will perform classified research at universities now and in the future. Furthermore, what security measures will implemented to provide appropriate security clearances for those faculty and students undertaking this type of classified research. Secondly, if one has appropriate faculty and student researchers who have received the needed security clearances to perform the research work, how does the university proceed to fulfill its historic mission to contribute new knowledge through the dissemination of its research findings? Publication of research results designed to harden water resource infrastructure systems could also serve as a guide for those seeking to undertake terrorist acts. It is anticipated that the research funding to support protection of water resource infrastructure systems will only increase in the future. Examination and consideration of the issues presented in this paper need to be undertaken to clarify the process and procedures to be utilized by universities engaged in research to reduce the vulnerability of water resource systems to terrorists’ acts.

Publication Type: 
Conference Proceeding
Full Citation: 
Bulkley, Jonathan. (2003) “Universities Undertaking Water Resources Security Research: Issues for Consideration.” UCOWR Water Security in the 21st Century, Conference Proceeding. Washington DC.
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