Sensing and relaying threats to water systems Climate change, exhaustive land-use practices, rising sea levels and non-natural pollutants are a few of the threats negatively affecting water systems and especially coastal aquifers. One European initiative advanced the means for following the impact of these threats and informing water management issues. Digital Economy © Thinkstock The 'Sustainable management of water resources by automated real-time monitoring' (ALERT) project focused on vulnerable water systems, and means of monitoring and managing the impact of various phenomena on water resources. The EU-funded project designed innovative technology which, based on real-time measurements of various properties, acts as an early warning system for potential threats to water systems. Project partners achieved a number of successes in relation to their objectives. These included developing algorithms and codes that optimise the collection of data, a hydrological model for evaluating different scenarios based on conventional and combined conventional-remote sensing data, and conducting simulations of seawater intrusion. The technology was tested in the Spanish Andarax River delta, where the coastal aquifer has come under threat as a result of rising sea levels, over-exploitation, seawater intrusion and anthropogenic pollutants. Test results showed that the proposed sensor methodology could be applied to homogeneous or layered media, but needed to be refined for use with heterogeneous media. ALERT members established a website which offered information, images, results, and an electronic database. However, despite the project's efforts, novel approach and technological pioneering, the region's hydrogeological patterns were deemed less than optimal for realising its purposes. Nonetheless, ALERT successfully demonstrated the potential of its partners for the development as well as commercial exploitation for similar future proposals.