Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Nick Valinski makes this connection here…
Libelium has made advancements in their smart sensor line of Waspmote products, documented in their February 24th, 2014 article entitled “Smart Water Sensors to monitor water quality in rivers, lakes and the sea.” The article describes the release of this new sensor base model that can affect both hydraulic and hydrologic systems, aimed at better distributed real time monitoring of water parameters [1]. While the sensing technology itself isn’t exactly new, the Libelium package offers a cost effective solution that is able to connect to the cloud to publish data in real time to online services. The new Smart Water Sensors are able to measure pH, dissolved oxygen, oxidation-reduction potential, salinity, temperature, and dissolved ion concentrations. Parameter measurements seem to be consistent with other monitoring devices such as water quality sondes and ISCO autosamplers used in both large estuarine zones and smaller catchment areas to monitor stream quality after snowmelt [2][ 3].
Though our wastewater treatment processes and understanding of natural water systems have greatly improved over the past 100 years, we still have not progressed to a point where we can quickly relay information in real time about a water contamination outbreak. Outbreaks in contamination have occurred as recently as January, with the contamination of a river water source in West Virginia. Despite having advanced techniques available, the contamination was not found until residents complained that the water tasted and smelled differently [4]. Large scale monitoring networks have previously been cost prohibitive, but the introduction of the Smart Water system means that these networks can be built out to protect water consumers from contamination before it gets to the tap. Water network engineers should be aware of these sensors and plan to build them into a modern day system to ensure the safety of the public.

Figure 1: Waspmote Plus & Sense Smart Water model from Libelium

Figure 1: Waspmote Plus & Sense Smart Water model from Libelium

Reference

1. Smart Water Sensors to monitor water quality in rivers, lakes and the sea. Libelium. February 24, 2014. Available at: http://www.libelium.com/smart-water-sensors-monitor-water-quality-leakages-wastes-in-rivers-lakes-sea/?utm_source=banner_home&utm_medium=banner. Accessed April 7, 2014.

2. Fucik P, Kaplicka M, Kvitek T, Peterkova J. Dynamics of Stream Water Quality during Snowmelt and Rainfall – Runoff Events in a Small Agricultural Catchment. Clean-Soil Air Water. February 2012;40(2):154-163.

3. Dong Z, Gu Y, Wang S, Shi Y, Li R, Xiong L. Monitoring and Assessment of Water Quality in Fuchunjiang and Hangzhou Reaches of Qiantangjiang Estuarine Zone. Energy Engineering and Environmental Engineering. Vol 316-317; 2013.

4. Gabriel T. Thousands Without Water After Spill in West Virginia. New York Times. January 10, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/11/us/west-virginia-chemical-spill.html. Accessed April 7, 2014.

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