News Release

Furst to study disinfection resiliency and microbial risk in drinking water distribution systems during extreme heat disasters

Grant and Award Announcement

George Mason University

Kirin Furst, Assistant Professor, Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering, is set to receive funding from the National Science Foundation for the project: "Disinfection Resiliency and Microbial Risk in Drinking Water Distribution Systems During Extreme Heat Disasters."

Furst and Katherine E. Graham, Assistant Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, will evaluate the effect of extreme heat on disinfection efficacy and failure risk in drinking water distribution systems, and evaluate a novel engineering solution to improve resiliency. 

To elucidate disinfectant residual decay kinetics under extreme heat conditions, they will conduct simulated distribution system studies for conventional chlorine and an emerging chlorine-based disinfection system recently approved for drinking water treatment, chlorocyanurates. 

They anticipate chlorocyanurate disinfection will be most resilient to high temperatures and maintain the highest microbial protection. 

The researchers will evaluate the impact of extreme heat conditions on L. pneumophilia growth kinetics with simulated distribution system experiments, and the required disinfection exposure to achieve inactivation will be compared between conventional and chlorocyanurate chlorination. 

They will combine the disinfection kinetics and microbial inactivation models with a temperature model built with a rare dataset of real distribution system temperatures from a southwestern U.S. city in order to quantify the anticipated disinfection failure rate under different extreme heat scenarios. The failure rate with chlorine will be compared to the proposed chlorocyanurate intervention.

The researchers hold the outcomes of this research will provide much needed understanding of how drinking water disinfection is compromised by extreme heat, and if successful, a novel and affordable solution to enhance resiliency of drinking water systems.

Furst will receive $100,000 from NSF for this project. Funding will begin in Nov. 2023 and will end in late Oct. 2025.

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About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia's largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls 38,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the last half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. Learn more at http://www.gmu.edu.


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