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A novel fiber optic evanescent wave spectroscopy (FEWS) system is based on a tunable diode laser (TDL) source, on a polymer‐coated AgClBr infrared transmitting fiber, and on a mercury cadmium telluride detector. This system was used for sensing low levels of chlorinated hydrocarbons in water. The detection limit was 100 μg/l (100 ppb), which is an improvement by a factor of 50 in comparison to a similar system that is based on a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer, and the measurement time was reduced by a factor of 3. The TDL‐FEWS system shows significant potential for in situ monitoring of ground water.