From Ports to Fishing, Marine Protected Areas to Rivers and Inland Waterways, water quality monitoring is critical to identifying problems and tackle pollution
Water is crucial to life on our planet.
Water covers 71% of the earth: in our oceans, rivers, lakes, icecaps and glaciers; in our soil as moisture, even in the air as water vapor. Life simply cannot exist without water.
However, the quality of our water is under threat: not only for drinking, but the water that flows through our oceans to support marine life, the fishing and aquaculture industry and in coastal communities around ports where stormwater flow is a major issue. Poor land management, irrigation practices, and increasing concentrations of chemicals are all factors impacting upon ground water quality, resulting in pollution.
Water pollution is a threat to our health and to our environment. Poor water quality (such as the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, ideally above 6.5-8mg/L) and water pollution are threats to the businesses that rely on high standards of water quality to ensure healthy fish and mollusks. People living in coastal communities, where the impact of water quality is highly visible, need protection from its negative impacts. For Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), maintaining water quality is critical for safeguarding marine biodiversity as well as other important ecosystem services in marine and coastal areas. Wastewater treatment centers have a key responsibility to collect and treat water, identifying potential pollutants and protecting human health.
The purpose of water quality monitoring and its benefits
Monitoring the quality of water is clearly vitally important: in our seas, our rivers, on the surface and in our ports. It enables us to assess how they are changing, analyze trends and to inform plans and strategies that improve water quality and ensures that water meets the designated use.
There are several indicators determining water quality. These include dissolved oxygen, turbidity, bioindicators, nitrates, pH scale and water temperature.
Let us consider the purpose of monitoring water quality in more detail.
- Monitoring helps to identify specific pollutants and the source of the pollution.
There are many sources of water pollution: wastewater from sewage seeping into the water supply; pollution caused by agricultural practices (e.g., the use of pesticides and fertilizer); oil pollution, river and marine dumping, port, shipping and industrial activity. Monitoring water quality regularly provides a source of data to identify immediate issues – and their source.
- Identifying trends, short and long-term, in water quality.
Data collected over a period of time can show trends, for example by identifying increasing concentrations of nitrogen pollution in a river or an inland waterway.
- Environmental planning: water pollution prevention and management.
Collecting, interpreting and using data is essential for the development of a sound and effective water quality strategy. The absence of real-time data can however hamper the development of strategies and limit the impact on pollution control. Using digital systems for data collection and management is a solution to this challenge.
- Compliance with international standards.
Monitoring water quality is a global issue and concern: on land and at sea. Within the European Union, the European Green Deal sets out goals for restoring biodiversity and reducing water pollution, as well as publishing various directives to ensure standards of water quality. Individual nation states, for example France, have also clear regulatory frameworks requiring the effective monitoring of water quality. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces regulations to address water pollution. Across the world, countries increasingly understand the importance of effective water quality monitoring.
- In emergencies, water quality monitoring is a necessity.
Examples include major oil leaks from shipping tankers or flooding due to excessive stormwater runoff. Whenever an emergency occurs immediate action is critical, requiring access to real-time data to assess the impact of pollution on water quality.
How is water quality traditionally monitored?
Traditionally, water quality monitoring relies on manual systems of data collection sampling. Sensors are placed at stations to record data, with readings taken from each and sent to a laboratory for analysis. It is time consuming, costly and inefficient, making it difficult to compare or assess the various water quality parameters.
Real-time data solutions for effective water quality monitoring
There is now though an alternative to manual systems of data collection: the Sinay Water Quality module.
How does the Sinay solution work?
The Sinay Water Quality module uses APIs to connect all types of sensors and transmits data at a chosen frequency, enabling the data to be easily accessible from your own dashboard – in real-time. Furthermore, data can be collected from multiple locations, and brought together in a single place. This enables you to be proactive in water pollution management, measuring the impact of environmental projects as well as monitoring compliance with international regulations.
The Water Quality module is part of the Sinay Hub, a system connecting you to accurate and real-time information for all kinds of maritime sectors. We can create a bespoke dashboard to meet your exact requirements, with swift delivery and implementation.