Experiences and Recommendations in Deploying a Real-time, Water Quality Monitoring System

Measurement Science and Technology, Volume 21, Number 12, December 2010

B O’Flynn, F Regan, A Lawlor, J Wallace, J Torres, and C O’Mathuna

“Monitoring of water quality at a river basin level to meet the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) using conventional sampling and laboratory-based techniques poses a significant financial burden. Wireless sensing systems offer the potential to reduce these costs considerably, as well as provide more useful, continuous monitoring capabilities by giving an accurate idea of the changing environmental and water quality in real time. It is unlikely that the traditional spot/grab sampling will provide a reasonable estimate of the true maximum and/or mean concentration for a particular physicochemical variable in a water body with marked temporal variability. When persistent fluctuations occur, it is likely only to be detected through continuous measurements, which have the capability of detecting sporadic peaks of concentration. Thus, in situ sensors capable of continuous sampling of parameters required under the WFD would therefore provide more up-to-date information, cut monitoring costs and provide better coverage representing long-term trends in fluctuations of pollutant concentrations. DEPLOY is a technology demonstration project, which began planning and station selection and design in August 2008 aiming to show how state-of-the-art technology could be implemented for cost-effective, continuous and real-time monitoring of a river catchment. The DEPLOY project is seen as an important building block in the realization of a wide area autonomous network of sensors capable of monitoring the spatial and temporal distribution of important water quality and environmental target parameters. The demonstration sites chosen are based in the River Lee, which flows through Ireland’s second largest city, Cork, and were designed to include monitoring stations in five zones considered typical of significant river systems-–these monitor water quality parameters such as pH, temperature, depth, conductivity, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. Over one million data points have been collected since the multi-sensor system was deployed in May 2009. Extreme meteorological events have occurred during the period of deployment and the collection of real-time water quality data as well as the knowledge, experience and recommendations for future deployments are discussed.”