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Development and application of Novel, Integrated Tools for monitoring and managing Catchments

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INTCATCH (Development and application of Novel, Integrated Tools for monitoring and managing Catchments)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2019-05-31

Water is the fundamental element to the health and wellbeing of the human population and the environment. In Europe, more than one billion euros a year are spent on testing water quality and still many water bodies are not meeting the highest standards, which may be acting as a barrier to sustainable growth and improving quality of life. It is this disparity between the expense of assessing water quality, and failure to reach the highest quality in our rivers and lakes, that INTCATCH is addressing.

INTCATCH will deliver innovation in water quality monitoring to take on many of the challenges faced in improving water quality in our rivers and lakes. INTCATCH aims to bring together, validate and exploit a range of innovative monitoring tools for river and lake water quality into a single efficient and replicable business model that is fit for European waters in the period 2020-2050. INTCATCH will do this by developing efficient, user-friendly water monitoring strategies and systems based on innovative technologies that will be able to provide real time data for important parameters. This will introduce a novel, cost effective and feasible approach to manage the pollution pressures that remain as the improvements to the environment progress in the future, moving the water and environment sectors towards SMART Rivers. In SMART environments, water quality will be monitored in real time, identifying and evaluating inputs, and treating runoff with innovative technologies that minimizes the pollution load discharged to rivers and lakes. The approach will focus on engaging stakeholders, communities and citizens in assessing the quality of their local water bodies. This is important for society because increasing pressure on financial resources are putting pressure on regulators, and a SMART environment, with real time data available to local people will enable more effective control over water quality.

The aim of INTCATCH is to use innovative monitoring tools to increase the involvement of stakeholders, and use citizen science, to help improve water quality in Europe over the period 2020 to 2050. The specific objectives of the project are related to affordable technologies, products and tools that will be developed and demonstrated, with the aim to deliver a reduction in the carbon footprint and the energy demand associated with water quality monitoring resulting in overall cost savings compared with conventional monitoring approaches.
1st Reporting Period

The work carried out during the first reporting period laid foundations for the validation and demonstration activities to be undertaken in the later parts of the project. During this period, much work was focussed on identifying what it is that INTCATCH should be monitoring in terms of important water quality indicators and catchment characteristics, as well as on how stakeholders engage with the environment and how the INTCATCH tools and approach can make best value of this.

In parallel and in collaboration, work focussed on the tools that would be used in the future activities of INTCATCH during work in the demonstration catchments. The sensors and other approaches that are available to the INTCATCH project to meet the requirements for monitoring were assessed.

Other activities at this time focussed on the interface between two software components used by INTCATCH, the Water Information System (WAIS) and the Bluegate (that gathers data from the boats). In addition, a methodology was developed for the selection of indicators for the Life Cycle analyses.

2nd Reporting Period

During the second 18 months of the INTCATCH project, progress has been made in using tools developed during the first phase, in terms of the number of deployments of the robotic and autonomous boats with water quality sensors and collection of data using the WAIS. The boats have been deployed in Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK to stream data to the WAIS cloud system, which allows for real-time visualisation via mobile apps. Alongside the boats, other monitoring tools, for genomics, pesticides and bacteria (E. Coli) have been demonstrated and linked to the WAIS. A decision support system has also been developed.

The project team have been assessing the use of tools, and are continuing to improve the reliability and ease of use of the boats in particular. Integration of the data output from the genomics tools into the WAIS and linking to sampling from a specialised boat platform has been achieved. Integration of analysis for heavy metals using voltammetry onto a boat platform was also achieved during this period.

The INTCATCH team members have worked closely with a range of stakeholders in demonstrating the INTCATCH tools in a wide range of water bodies, from large lakes to small and shallow rivers. Of the tools developed, the robotic and autonomous boats attract most attention, and are the highly “visual” part of the project. The challenge for the INTCATCH team is to incorporate these effectively with other tools, bringing project outputs together and develop the concept of the “Smart River” and effective management. Feedback to the developers of the hardware and software tools from demonstration and stakeholder engagement activities has allowed for extensive improvements to be incorporated into the systems. All the activities undertaken have contributed to achieving Objective 1 in the GA, “To demonstrate an innovative approach towards water monitoring”. Much of the focus of activities in the remaining months of the project will be directed at how partners can individually and collaboratively exploit the project outcomes.
"The INTCATCH project is about innovation and demonstration, in relation to water management at both the local and catchment scale. A range of tools are being developed as part of the project, which include a decision support system (DSS), data collection, storage, retrieval and visualisation tools, along with water quality monitoring systems. Approaches to monitoring will demonstrate robotic and autonomous boats, a mobile genomics laboratory and sensors for metals and pesticides. The project has also installed a state of the art treatment system on a combined sewer discharge outlet (Figure 1).

Activities in Spain and Greece have engaged a number of stakeholders and investigated issues related to water quality. A new model of boat was recently demonstrated (Figure 2). These are more compact and mobile than the previous model, integrating autonomy and data control (through BlueBox software) on a low cost Raspberry Pi circuit board. The boat was used to collect data in response to a Tweet by a local group (""Grup de Defensa del Ter"") regarding an input suspected of adversely impacting water quality; data showing a change in conductivity near to the suspected source were shared in response to the original Tweet (Figure 3).

The progress beyond state of the art is in integrating the monitoring tools with other components of the INTCATCH project, in particular the data systems. The Water Quality Information System (WAIS) stores the data from boats, but also allows for stakeholders, including the public, to share pictures of their rivers through the WASCO app. Figure 4 shows screenshots from a mobile phone, demonstrating the process for uploading a picture (“Send observation”). More features in the software allow for interaction between the WAIS and the DSS.
Figure 2. The new design of the INTCATCH boat, approximately 1m long.
Figure 1. The CSO treatment plant at Lake Garda.
"Figure 3. The response by the Beta Tech Centre to the original Tweet from ""Grup de Defensa del Ter""."
Figure 4. Screenshots from the WASCO app; the R. Ter catchment page with 'send observation' option.