Ecosens AquamonitrixWater Quality Sensor
Water is a finite precious resource that is being put under pressure due to the fast-growing population which is extracting too much water and polluting our rivers, lakes and groundwater with municipal, agricultural and industrial wastes. Climate change, loss of biodiversity, unsustainable use of natural resources and environmental pressures have a negative impact on water quality and quantity which are inextricably linked, with over extraction causing low river flows, low ground water levels and drying up of wetlands.
With the aim of improving water quality at a European level, the EU Water Framework Directive was implemented in 2000. It was expected that good ecological status would be achieved for all surface, ground and coastal waters by December 2015. However, in 2015, the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen published a report on the status of Europe’s waters; it noted that only 53% of freshwater bodies would achieve good ecological status which was only a modest improvement on the 2009 figure of 43% of rivers and lakes.
Environmental legislation requires improvements in water quality and effluent discharged to waterways due to the EU Water Framework Directive and related Directives; e.g. the Nitrates Directive (Council Directive of 12 December 1991). The need for compliance with these Directives has created a demand among Government monitoring agencies and legislative bodies throughout Europe for frequent monitoring, both temporally and spatially. With only half of the water sources reaching good ecological status in 2015, more is needed to be done. Indeed, according to the European Environment Agency, concentrations of nutrients in many places across Europe are still high and it is expected that in 20 years, in regions with intensive agriculture production, diffuse nitrogen pollution will still be high, resulting in continued eutrophication issues. Indeed, more than 40% of rivers and coastal water bodies are affected by diffuse pollution from agriculture, while between 20% & 25% are subject to point source pollution, for example, from industrial facilities, sewage systems and wastewater treatment plants.
In fact, in recent years, there is an increased global focus towards early detection of pollution incidents and the identification/mitigation of historical pollution. This global focus on early detection is related to the cost of pollution for government agencies; e.g. in Spain in 2010 nitrate & phosphate damage cost €150 million. This is a cost in monetary terms but also in terms of ecosystem health and sustainability as well as consumer health and human well-being.
More than 40,000 million m3 of waste water is treated in EU every year but only 964 million m3 of this treated wastewater is reused
European Commission, Water Reuse Factsheet, 2016
The main objective of the Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water
is to provide a sufficient quantity of good quality water to EU citizens. The Water Blueprint is closely related to the EU’s 2020 Strategy and, in particular, to the 2011 Resource Efficiency Roadmap, and one important aspect of the Blueprint is water re-use for irrigation or industrial purposes. Re-use of water (e.g. from waste water treatment or industrial installations) is considered to have a lower environmental impact than other alternative water supplies (e.g. water transfers or desalinisation), but it is only used to a limited extent in the EU: more than 40,000 million m3 of waste water is treated in EU every year but only 964 million m3 of this treated wastewater is reused (European Commission, Water Reuse Factsheet, 2016). According to the European Water Platform (WssTP) Strategic Innovation & Research Agenda, in the future, more than 30% of the total water demand will be delivered by alternative water sources such as rain-water, brackish, saline, and re-used water streams.
of the project
Through its transnational approach, LIFE Ecosens Aquamonitrix‘s water quality monitoring solution is expected to address the European market at large, with the final solution designed to cope with different environmental conditions and country regulations.
Through the project, diverse climatic regions are addressed, including Nordic, oceanic and continental climates. Moreover, the legislation and procedures for water quality monitoring vary from country to country, so it might be necessary to adapt for instance some parameter range values or monitoring frequency depending on the country and region addressed.
Finally, in order to foster the replication of the solution developed, the project covers a wide spectrum of European countries and water authorities. Thus, at the end of the project water sector authorities and stakeholders from 4 different European countries will be aware of the outputs of the project, facilitating the commercialization of the product afterwards.