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Project Aims to Reduce Water Risk in Europe

Posted: Tuesday 19th June 2007

An EU project costing an estimated €2.5M will aim to provide vital timely information for the management of pollution incidents in coastal areas and large rivers. Ian Thompson from project partner YSI Hydrodata (UK) says “The project will develop novel water quality monitoring techniques and exploit recent developments in communications technology to produce a network of monitoring stations that will integrate with satellite based remote sensing equipment to provide a real-time monitoring network for diffuse and point source pollution. As a result it will be possible, for example, to monitor chemical leaks and spills and predict the growth of algal blooms.”

The EU Water Framework Directive has stimulated a demand for greater monitoring data. It is now necessary to take measurements at more points, more often. However, water sampling and subsequent laboratory analysis is time consuming and costly. Furthermore, sampling frequency has to be high in order to ensure that all water quality events are detected. This has created a need for continuous monitoring systems that are able to provide real-time data.

WARMER (WAter Risk Management in EuRope) is a research project funded by the EC 6th Framework Programme, under the IST-Environmental Risk Management program aiming to fulfil the growing demands for real-time monitoring data.

The water quality monitoring system being developed within WARMER will be buoy mounted and include modular automated in-situ probes capable of making a variety of measurements including temperature, conductivity, ammonium, nitrate, phosphate, pH, redox, calcium, chloride, dissolved oxygen, lead, cadmium, copper, turbidity, colour, mercury, iron, chromium, phenols, chlorophyll/phyto pigments in addition to water direction and flow.

Several of these parameters are measured by existing technologies within the YSI multiparameter sondes; however, a range of subsidiary development projects will seek to develop technologies for the remainder. These will include:

1) Potentiometric sensors, mounted in one or more multiparameter flow-cells measuring mainly inorganic ions and heavy metals; in the case of heavy metals, a specific preliminary digestion phase will be included (for dissolved and total metals).

2) Stripping voltammetry, working with screen printed electrodes for heavy metals with possible integration of biosensors working with the same detection system; phenol measurements will be tested using a specific selective sensor.

3) Colorimetric / fluorimetric techniques, running standard analytical methods

Each monitoring station will be battery powered with data storage capability and will be mounted on commercially available coastal buoys. Water monitoring data will be collected by a local remote programmable data-logger and a GPS device will spatially identify any collected data with time. Data will be stored and then transmitted using GPRS or other suitable telemetry technology to a sophisticated Web server system which will provide data visualisation in alphanumeric/graphic format and manage the data validation process and remote configuration upgrades.

Data collected by the buoys will be used to calibrate remote sensing data, automatically collected from satellites and processed using the DISMAR Web based system. Spatial and short-medium term water pollution forecasts will be produced to inform decisions on accidental spills in natural water resources.

Looking forward Thompson comments “This is a very exciting project which combines the skills and expertise of nine organisations from all over Europe including manufacturers, research institutions and universities. At YSI Hydrodata, we are market leaders in instrumentation to monitor the aquatic environment, this includes sensor technologies and integrated monitoring systems so the benefit of our long history in the subject will be to ensure that the insitu monitoring equipment which is created by ‘WARMER’ will be robust, reliable and capable of producing good quality data.

The WARMER project will be of interest to many of our customers because they are often those with responsibility for the protection of aquatic resources.”

The WARMER project will last until the end of August 2009 and it is anticipated that further announcements will be made as the project progresses and new technologies emerge.

The 9 WARMER participants are as follows:

Institute of Electron Technology, (Poland)
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, (Norway)
Politechnika Warszawska, (Warsaw University of Technology), (Poland)
Research Institute of Chemistry of St. Petersburg University, (Russia)
Systems Technology Advance Srl, SYSTEA (Italy)
The University Court of the University of Aberdeen, (UK)
Universitaet fuer Bodenkultur Wien, (Austria)
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona,(Spain)
YSI Hydrodata, (UK)

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