Water distribution networks, as well as river and maritime ecosystems near the coast can be exposed to involuntary contamination that can alter the quality of the water. This can threaten human health if the water is used as a source of drinking water, as well as threatening the stability of the aquatic ecosystems. The companies that manage water for human consumption use systems to monitor the quality of the water. However, in river and maritime settings, the methods used depend on a laboratory analysis that can take several days. To prevent an early deterioration of the quality of the water, real-time monitoring of the main parameters is required.
And this is what one of the latest developments by researchers of the Centre of Nanophotonic Technology (NTC) of Valencia’s Polytechnic University (UPV) allows. From their laboratories in the Vera campus, and with funding from the Valencian Innovation Agency (AVI), NTC researchers have developed a system that enables the continuous monitoring of the level of contamination of a river’s water through the deployment of a network of underwater sensors that are interconnected by way of a fibre optics cable. This cable has been specially designed to be placed along the riverbed and stands out due to its resistance and durability, high transmission capabilities and resistance to mechanical traction.
The developed monitoring system uses probes to measure water quality at different locations of the riverbed, and includes the subsystems necessary to transmit data through the underwater fibre optics cable. The data is sent to a remote station located on the shore, where it is processed to obtain measurements in real time and can set off contamination alarms when necessary.
Demonstration in Pedralba
The system was assessed in the irrigation canal of Pedralba which belongs to the Irrigation Association of said town, and whose waters come from the Túria river. “The demonstration has made it possible to verify the correct operation of the developed systems, and has laid the foundations for the development of a network of communications with fibre optics placed on the riverbed that makes it possible to continuously monitor, in the long term, the water quality parameters of a large number of locations,” explains Roberto Llorente, researcher of the NTC.
Valencian company Fibernova S.L. also took part in developing the system, specifically in deploying and managing the network.