Healthy waters

Mitigating water quality risks with real-time data

Water is a fundamental element, sustaining all life. Being able to measure its quality – and quantity, can help forecast droughts and flooding, and protect health and wellbeing, improving community readiness to climate adaptation.

Forth-ERA objectives

  • Monitor water quality in rivers, lakes and the Forth estuary.
  • Provide real-time detection of sewage overflows in rivers and bathing waters.
  • Assess and optimise climate adaptation strategies.

Data buoys will be installed in five freshwater lochs and two in the Forth estuary. The buoys will measure water quality. Added value includes real-time measurement of bacterial coliforms in rivers using a bespoke flow-through system.

From space, 936 UK waterbodies will be monitored by satellite. This provides unprecedented advances in the timeliness of reporting with weekly updates, comparative to average monthly updates.

Data comes to live in visuals on an interactive cloud platform. The possibilities of the granular detail that can be analysed are only limited by imagination.

Why is Forth-ERA monitoring water quality? Dr Peter Hunter, Science Director for Forth-ERA, explains why lakes are so vital for food, energy, industry and climate change.

Forth-ERA practical applications of data measuring and analysis

Tracking discharges of wastewater

Forth-ERA would enable near-real time detection and monitoring of wastewater discharges from treatment works in the Forth Valley to support the operations of companies such as Scottish Water while also contributing to the surveillance monitoring undertaken by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Under extreme flood events, where overflow may result in untreated effluents and an ever-increasing cocktail of pollutants being discharged, data flows can provide the data on the impact of downstream ecosystems and evidence needed for the implementation of mitigation measures and follow up action

Harbour sedimentation and navigation

Harbour authorities require information on suspended sediment loads and their effect on bathymetry in harbours and other navigable waterways. Forth-ERA could supply this information to companies such as Forth Ports and contracted environmental consultancies such as Royal Haskoning DHV.

Efficient navigation driving down emissions

Data about sea (ocean currents and waves) and meteorological conditions have proven to be useful for planning ships routes. Route optimisation is mainly aimed at providing improved safety, minimizing the impact of extreme weather conditions and keeping crew, vessel and cargo safe. At the same time, optimal routes can be also cost efficient in terms of saving both fuel and time. The application of augmented reality could be exploited by harbour pilots, for example.

Real-time flood warnings

The combined effect of storm surges and catchment flooding provide real risk to key assets within the Estuary. Forth-ERA will be providing monitoring and modelling capability to assess effective mitigation strategies. Forth-ERA would be able to monitor changes in catchment hydrology (soil moisture) and river levels through the sensor network to provide early warnings of potential flood water generation as well as provide data from dynamic model simulations to Forth Valley industries, SEPA and emergency services in the office and in the field via 5G.

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