The Importance of a Water Quality Monitor
Monitoring the chemical condition of waters is essential for ensuring that they are safe to use. This includes sampling for contaminants and measuring their levels, as well as observing their physical conditions such as temperature, sediments, and erosion potential.
Data collected from monitoring sites enables environmental planning for wastewater and industrial permit limits, assessing compliance with water quality standards, and identifying emerging environmental issues. This can be done through data analysis, prediction, and anomaly detection using state-of-the-art machine learning techniques.
Water quality monitoring is important for a variety of reasons. It helps identify contaminants that are harmful to humans and the environment, provides data for watershed management and restoration goals, and ensures compliance with environmental regulations.
The temperature of a water body is one of the most fundamental parameters for measuring water quality. It has a major impact on aquatic life and affects gas transfer rates, especially the solubility of oxygen. It also influences the evaporation rate, which makes it important for irrigation and other agricultural uses.
Many communities have volunteer monitors who take water samples, conduct visual assessments of physical conditions and measure the biological health of water bodies. These volunteers are a valuable source of information and help to supplement government data collection efforts. The rapid growth of urbanization and industrialization is causing the degradation of water quality at an alarming rate, which makes real-time water contamination detection essential. Traditionally, the monitoring of water quality is carried out using manual systems of data collection sampling that require sensors to be set up at different locations with each sample sent to a laboratory for analysis.
The pH of water specifies how acidic or alkaline it is. The ideal pH for a water body ranges from 6 to 7. Anything that goes beyond or below this can have negative effects on water quality monitor wildlife. Acidic water can kill algae and deplete oxygen levels, while high pH levels can stress animal systems and increase mortality rates.
Electrical conductivity measures the amount of salt and other substances in a body of water. This is important because excessively high conductivity can lead to an imbalance in the water. It is also an indicator of other problems, such as sedimentation or contamination.
Volunteer monitors are private individuals who conduct regular assessments of physical conditions of waters for local decision-making and to supplement state data. This type of monitoring is a vital part of our country’s water quality management. The emergence of IoT and machine learning technologies has enabled us to build a low-cost system that can be used for real-time water contaminant detection. These systems typically consist of parameter sensors, a microcontroller and a wireless communication module. The sensor readings go through signal conditioning before being sent to the cloud and displayed on a dashboard.
Turbidity is the measurement of the amount of material suspended in a liquid. The higher the turbidity, the more cloudy the water is. This is a significant water quality indicator that can impact the underwater environment and the aquatic life.
Several natural and human factors can cause turbidity in lakes, streams, rivers and oceans. These factors can include erosion, lakeshore development and wastewater discharges that increase particle density. This in turn reduces light penetration and limits energy absorption within the water body.
Portable turbidity meters are available that measure levels of total suspended solids (TSS). These devices use a long device that is lowered into the water to read how much material is floating around and blocking light. The meter can also have other water quality sensors for conductivity and dissolved oxygen.
These systems are able to communicate with each other through wireless technologies such as LoRa, Zigbee, built-in WiFi and GSM. They can be used for online monitoring and alerting based on predefined parameters. They can also store the data on a remote cloud server for further analysis and decision making.
In the same way that land animals breathe oxygen from the air, aquatic animals use dissolved oxygen (DO) in water to “breathe.” If DO levels drop in water bodies, it can harm them.
DO is a direct indicator of a water body’s ability to support life – fish and other organisms need it to survive. It gets into the water through diffusion from the atmosphere, aeration as water tumbles over rocks and rapids, and production by algae and other aquatic plants.
Dissolved oxygen can vary widely depending on many factors, including temperature – warmer water holds less DO than cooler water. Seasonal changes in river flow, weather and the daily cycle of photosynthetic production also affect DO levels.
Traditionally, water quality monitoring has been carried out in laboratory environments using scientific equipment and trained personnel. However, several studies have demonstrated new alternative technologies that can provide DO and other important water parameters in real-time, on the mobile network and without the need for sampling, sample preservation or transport to laboratories. Mahoney et al.  innovated the optimization of a multilayer optical-fluidic sensor device to obtain increased sensitivity in the in situ detection of DO between 0 and 20 ppm.
The electrical conductivity (EC) of water reflects the amount of mineral salts and other electrolytes dissolved water quality monitor in it. Using a portable or benchtop meter with a probe immersed in the water, electrical current flows between two electrons inside the probe, set apart at a specific distance, depending on the concentration of ions present.
This results in an EC reading that is used to determine the total dissolved solids (TDS) and salinity of the water 1.
Significant changes in EC can indicate the presence of pollution. An increase in EC can be due to a sewage leak, agricultural runoff or road salt, while a decrease may be attributed to natural processes like precipitation or evaporation 1.
Aquarium and aquaculture businesses often use this measurement to ensure the correct balance of freshwater and seawater in their tanks for healthy fish. In addition, municipal water departments and utilities monitor EC to detect possible chemical and mineral contamination in their drinking water. They rely on this information to take corrective action before it’s too late and protect human health and the environment.