Goleta firm gains water-safety contract
By FRANK NELSON
A Goleta-based high-tech company is to play a key role in official efforts to protect the quality of California's drinking water at a time when many think water supplies present tempting targets for terrorists.
Frontier Technology Inc. has been awarded a $2.8 million contract to develop a prototype system to monitor water for chemical, biological or radiological agents, using data collected by satellites from ground sensors.
The Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Air Force say they believe heavily populated urban areas present attractive targets to those who would intentionally contaminate drinking water.
The agencies say timely detection and prediction of contamination are critically important.
Frontier is involved in information technology, including databases, network services and customized application software development, as well as engineering systems and services.
The company, which provides information technology and engineering services to the U.S. Department of Defense and commercial customers, has offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Dayton, Ohio; Beverly, Mass.; and Colorado Springs.
Under this latest contract, the privately owned company will work alongside the California Space Authority, the Centech Group and other specialized subcontractors to develop a prototype to monitor California's drinking water systems.
These span thousands of miles of streams, reservoirs, treatment facilities, pipelines and local distribution networks, all of which are regarded as vulnerable to the accidental or intentional introduction of agents.
Much of the state's water system is in areas where it is impossible to provide adequate on-site security. Curt Stahl, Frontier's program manager, says this project will use space capabilities to monitor remote supplies and those throughout the system in urban areas. The technology will then relay results to the appropriate agencies.
Frontier's chairman, Lavon Jordan, said this award is the first in the Homeland Security arena for the company, which expects to offer its solution to water districts, other states and perhaps other nations.
Last month, Frontier announced that, partnering with San Diego-based SAIC, it had won a major five-year contract supporting the resource analyses directorate of the Air Force Studies and Analyses Agency.
Frontier has provided technical expertise for this directorate over the past three years and has supported the agency in various capacities since 1997. This includes general analytical support, software development for large-scale models and support for existing model simulations.
Frontier is working with the agency in modeling and simulation, mathematical programming, database management, software development, statistical analysis and operations research. The company says its staff applies the most rigorous analytical techniques to solve the Air Force's toughest resource problems.