SiW 2017: Sensors for catchments write up

October 24th, 2017

The afternoon session on day two looked at sensing systems for environmental monitoring, with an emphasis on the macro systems.

The proceedings opened with a presentation from John Kupiec of the Environment Agency. He outlined the EA monitoring requirements and their need to focus on high risk catchments. To achieve this they worked with other DEFRA bodies to generate detailed crop maps using Radar measurements from the ESA ‘Sentinel 1A and 1B’ satellites. This will help estimate agricultural pollution risks and focus other monitoring systems.

The second speaker was Tom Lendrem of PMA. He described the experiences of installing and operating over 30 monitoring stations along the river Ganges in India. The stations used S::CAN sensor platforms measuring up to 11 parameters transmitting data to a central database in real time via the internet. The information was used to capture pollution events and help improve the river quality.

The third speaker was Matthew Ellison of OTT. His presentation focused on the ways that autonomous high-frequency sensors can advance catchment monitoring beyond the dependence on mains power. He described case studies showing where data from phosphate, nitrate, and DOC sensors gives stakeholders more understanding of water bodies. The information helped one water company reduced infrastructure spend through understanding source apportionment and in Florida a monitoring network is used for water management to avoid generating harmful algae blooms.

The final speaker was Nathalie Guigues of LNE. She told us how a specialist test laboratory had been created on the Oise River in France to test 27 different instruments measuring a range of parameters including dissolved organic matter, nitrates, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, phosphates and ammonium. She described the test methods and results, showing that many, but not all, instruments were fit for purpose. The results can also be used to make recommendations on calibration and drift corrections.

The session finished up with a lively question and answer session on different sensors and systems for environmental monitoring.

By Andrew Chappell, Technical Advisor, Environment Agency