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

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - INTCATCH (Development and application of Novel, Integrated Tools for monitoring and managing Catchments)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-01-31

The EU Horizon 2020 INTCATCH project finished on the 31st January 2020 and had the overall aim of utilising a range of innovative monitoring tools to facilitate investigative monitoring activities to identify sources of pollutants. Within this context the work will be of interest to those involved in the formulation and delivery of policies and actions for managing and monitoring water bodies. This includes those working for regulatory bodies, government departments and professionals working in the water sector. In Europe this is within the context of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), however, the approaches developed are applicable to water bodies worldwide. The approach to monitoring has been reported in deliverable 2.3 “INTCATCH Innovative Monitoring Strategies” and also in the scientific literature.
There have been advances in the development of specific innovative tools for monitoring and in their application and demonstration. The tools developed are robotic boats which support a range of sensors, a mobile genomics laboratory, electrochemical sensors for detecting heavy metals (copper and lead), toxicity test kits and a paper based E-coli sensor. The details of these tools are published in a number of the project deliverables and in a range of scientific papers described in deliverable 10.2 the “INTCATCH Dissemination activities” report. The outputs are aimed at all those engaged in water quality monitoring, for both chemical and biological quality. Researchers involved in using autonomous vehicles for environmental monitoring, in sensor technologies and genomics will be able to engage with these project outcomes. The work on novel sensors has been undertaken by Prof. A. Merkoçi and his group at ICN2 in Spain, who are world leaders in sensor development and who have published 5 research papers based on the project outcomes. The robotic boats feature autonomous control, which is of interest to a wide range of stakeholders, from the end users through to research scientists looking to how systems can learn from the environment around them and navigate safely. The work is published in project deliverables relating to work package 4, and in the scientific literature by Prof. A Farinelli and his team at the University of Verona.

Alongside development of tools has been the production of data systems and software to communicate with a range of stakeholders. Data from sensors mounted on boats is transmitted via the INTCATCH Water Quality Information System (WAIS), where it is stored securely and can be viewed in real-time on Apps for mobile devices and later retrieved and analysed using PC based software. Information on the data systems is publically available in project deliverables from work package 7, as it uses industry standard protocols and database structures, however, source code is protected intellectual property within the consortium. The WAIS data system also communicates with a decision support system (DSS) which was developed in work package 6. The decision support system works at a catchment scale using data collected by monitoring to identify the most probable input sources. With enough information, it can and also suggest appropriate interventions, such was nature based solutions or engineered combined sewer outfall (CSO) treatment systems to help improve water quality.

The effectiveness of the INTCATCH approach was reported in deliverable “INTCATCH Integrated assessment of the approaches used”, which reflected on what was achieved and how the interaction between models and a DSS could be developed in the future. Such project outputs will be of value to the community involved with water quality modelling and with identifying where the most effective interventions can be made to improve water quality. As part of the related activities, a pilot scale system, supplied by the project partner Salsnes Filter from Norway, to treat CSOs was installed at Villa Bagatta on Lake Garda with integrated real-time monitoring systems using the same sensors and communications as those on the INTCATCH boats. All components (90µm filter, granular activated carbon and UV light) of the treatment system were effective in improving the quality of water discharged. Filtration alone removed around 40% of suspended solids and COD. The UV treatment reduced E coli by 90% under a range of scenarios and this information, fully detailed in deliverable 5.1 “Performance of the Monitoring Tools and Effectiveness of the Monitoring Strategy at Lake Garda” will be of value to people working in water utilities worldwide. As a consequence of the work done in the project, the INTCATCH CSO system has been used as an example in guidelines for treatment of CSOs in the Region of Lombardy in Italy, and such generic treatment systems, with monitoring capability, specified for the new sewer system proposed to service lake Garda. The many thousands of CSO discharges throughout Europe are known to have significant impacts on water quality and there is increasing pressure to install monitoring and treatment systems. Much of the work undertaken in the INTCATCH project is of direct relevance to those working on these issues, in terms of the treatment system discussed in work package 5, which compliment the INTCATCH monitoring strategies and tools.
Throughout the INTCATCH project, engagement with a wide range of stakeholders has been undertaken and the value of Citizen Science was recognised. This wide engagement links to policy in relation to the recent Fitness Check of the WFD and related European legislation. Effective demonstrations of the tools developed in Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK have shown how it is possible to effectively apply the monitoring strategies developed and gather useful data. These activities are reported in detail for Greece and Spain in the work package 8 deliverables. The successful demonstrations have allowed the consortium to focus on a key objective and consider how to exploit and to “commercialise the range of technologies and approaches” developed in the project. Within the consortium there are partners interested in undertaking activities ranging from further research, such as development of sensors and artificial intelligence for the robotic systems, through to exploiting proven technologies such as the CSO treatment system. In relation to the monitoring activities and tools, a number of partners involved intend to continue collaboration to offer and support an investigation service to the water sector and stakeholders, including citizen scientists.