In recent years, the water sector has adopted the widespread use of information and communication technologies for planning and operations. However, not only must they comply with stricter legislation and safety regulations, as well as environmental demands, they must also meet the needs of ageing infrastructure. These include combating leaks and addressing quality issues concerning the supply network.
The result has been a growing demand for real-time water management solutions. However, related technology does not fully satisfy the water sector's requirements for analysis, control and water management. Drawbacks with conventional probes include excessive energy consumption, fragility, high maintenance, lack of accuracy and electrolyte leakage. They also need to be calibrated manually in the laboratory.
These technical drawbacks make the implementation of sensor grids very difficult and expensive. An EU project, 'Water network sensors for widespread use' (WIDESENS)
, was therefore established to overcome these challenges. Its aim was to develop and power arrays of low-cost sensors for deployment in remote locations.
The probes will measure pH, conductivity, fouling, redox potential and chlorine, and monitor water quality. They will also monitor water pressure for evaluating the quality of service and identifying leaks. In addition, the consortium will develop the telecommunication system and the necessary software, as well as sensors capable of self-calibration and cleaning.
Water utilities and water authorities will benefit from the work of WIDESENS, which will provide an accurate way of ensuring the quality of the supply. It will also improve water management processes such as chlorination and leak detection. In addition, it will ensure safer water for consumers and lower environmental impacts due to reduced chlorination and better water preservation.