Yorkshire Water is installing 21 water quality monitors along stretches of the River Wharfe in a trial to better understand impacts on the river and ultimately to help improve bathing water quality in the picturesque town of Ilkley, UK.
Monitors from six different suppliers are being tested at sites along the river for 12 months. The trial will ensure the water quality monitors can deliver accurate results in a challenging outdoor environment.
The monitors have been installed in line with draft requirements in the Government's Environment Act and will measure levels of dissolved oxygen - the amount of oxygen available to living aquatic organisms - along with temperature, pH values, turbidity and levels of ammonia. The requirements of the Environment Act are yet to be finalised and will not come into force until 2025, but Yorkshire Water says it is hoping to demonstrate how the legislation could work.
"We hope to be able to forecast what we expect the river water quality to be many hours ahead of expected bad weather, to help inform people if it is a suitable time to swim or not.”
An additional 120 sewer level and flow monitors will be installed in the town as part of Yorkshire Water’s smart network project. Monitoring equipment will provide further understanding of real-time performance of the sewer network.
A key part of the project will be to link the data collected by the 21 water quality monitors to data from the sewer network. This will be analysed by software from technology company StormHarvester, which will look at water quality and any impact coming from discharges related to combined sewage and stormwater overflows, known as CSOs.
If the trial is successful, it is hoped the data will be used to provide near real-time water quality insights to the public so they can make informed decisions on entering the bathing water.
Thomas Ogden, waste networks innovation specialist at Yorkshire Water, said “Our smart networks project will further our understanding of the sewer network from toilets to treatment works, with the ultimate aim of reducing discharges into rivers.
“The existing smart network project, combined with the 21 water quality monitors we are trialling will allow us to link the data, analyse it quickly and enable us to provide real-time information to people looking to enjoy the bathing water in Ilkley. Longer term, we hope to be able to forecast what we expect the river water quality to be many hours ahead of expected bad weather, to help inform people if it is a suitable time to swim or not.”
The 21 river water quality monitors and 120 sewer level and flow monitors are currently being installed in Ilkley and along the Wharfe.