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Researchers to develop new water quality monitoring system

  • Researchers to develop new water quality monitoring system

About the entity

University of Stirling
We are an international university with pioneering spirit and a global reputation for high-quality teaching and research. We are passionate about creating impact in everything we do.

Researchers at the University of Stirling are to develop a new system for monitoring freshwater quality in the UK.

Freshwater ecosystems are critical to biodiversity and human health, but they are under pressure from a range of catchment and climate stressors. The SenseH2O project will develop a cost-effective system for monitoring water quality in real time using cutting edge technology. The project will be led by Dr Peter Hunter, Science Director in Scotland's International Environment Centre at the University of Stirling.

It is funded by a £670,000 grant from NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) and Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) under the Innovation in Environmental Monitoring programme. SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) and Scottish Water will be partners on the project.

Transformational project

Dr Hunter said: “We are delighted to have received this funding from NERC and Defra, and to be partnering with SEPA and Scottish Water on this exciting new project.

“Our ability to measure changes in water quality at scale is fundamental to understanding the combined effects of human and climate pressures on freshwater ecosystems.

“The SenseH2O project will develop a scalable, low-cost approach for real-time water quality monitoring by integrating the latest in sensor technologies, data pipelines powered by artificial intelligence, and web-enabled data visualisation to transform how we monitor and manage freshwater ecosystems in the UK.”

The project is one of 13 to benefit from NERC and Defra investment in new technologies for monitoring the state of UK waterways, habitats, soil, and air.

World-leading research

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “This funding will support our world-leading scientists develop new capabilities for understanding and monitoring the natural environment and allow us to develop better quality evidence faster and more efficiently - in turn helping us create a cleaner and greener environment.

“There is also terrific potential for any successful environmental monitoring products and services to be exported internationally, supporting nature recovery globally and boosting the reputation of the UK scientific community.”

Science Minister Andrew Griffith said: “This government has a world-leading track record on a cleaner environment. This £12 million backing for research will unlock game-changing tools to track biodiversity and monitor water quality, which are key to those efforts. Not only will these technologies help us protect the environment, but this support will boost the businesses behind them, by bringing these tools to market sooner.”

Dr Iain Williams, Director of Strategic Partnerships for NERC, said: “This investment by NERC and Defra will help to deliver a step-change in environmental monitoring, modelling and decision-making. It supports UKRI’s ambition to help businesses to grow through the development and commercialisation of new products, processes, and services, supported by an outstanding research and innovation ecosystem.”

Harnessing potential

The investment will enable researchers and innovators to harness the potential of new sensing and monitoring technologies, artificial intelligence, and high-performance computing to create new information services for research, government and businesses.

High quality environmental monitoring is essential for meeting environmental goals in the UK and worldwide, underpinning government policy, emerging green finance markets and driving sustainability in the private sector.

Monitoring enables the tracking of the natural environment and measures the success of interventions that tackle climate change and detect natural disasters.

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