Undoubtedly, water is the most essential resource on our planet. Without it, life will cease to exist and will definitely collapse within a few days. Not only for general usage, but its application in industries also helps in the creation and refining of other resources and products that are essential for our existence and sustainable living.
However, we have been exploiting this irreplaceable resource for decades. Out of the 71% water that covers the Earth’s crust, only 2.5% or even less is suitable for drinking. This has resulted in severe consequences in terms of increased concentration of pollutants in freshwater bodies along with water scarcity in different corners of the globe.
The freshwater sources are depleting at an uncontrollable rate and currently, there isn’t any alternative to improve the situation other than monitoring and maintaining optimum quality of water bodies. Howbeit, currently the water quality measurement is done manually, which poses several challenges.
Challenges associated with Manual Water Quality Monitoring Method
Manual methods of water quality measurement along with being time-consuming and cost-intensive also pose the following challenges:
• Errors and mistakes are the general nature of human beings. Hence, errors are prone to be made when water quality readings are taken manually.
• Data Quality definitely decreases if the readings are inaccurate or flawed. Moreover, developing useful insights from this data also takes a considerable amount of time.
• Efficiency and cost-effectiveness of taking manual water quality readings is quite low as it consumes a lot of time and effort.
• Training and proper education is required to be given to the workforce and prepare them to take on-site readings.
• Manual Inspection of probes and sensors also waste a lot of productive time that could have been utilized for efficient reading procedures.
How to Monitoring Water Quality with IoT:
The above-mentioned challenges make the manual method of measuring water quality quite redundant. Smart water quality monitoring system using IoT are hence required to automatically monitor various parameters that determine the quality of water.
Internet of Things has enabled the development of automatic water quality monitoring systems that mitigate the above-mentioned challenges. By using devices like sensors and probes, several parameters of water can be measured in real-time from remote locations.
These devices share live data about the quality of a water body to a platform suite. By using this platform, a person or a company can take useful actions to ensure optimum water quality. Some variables that can be measured through remote water quality monitoring devices are:
Turbidity is the amount of individual suspended particles in water. Due to the presence of these particles, the water seems to be cloudy or hazy in appearance.
Measuring pH or power of hydrogen tells if the water is acidic or basic in nature. The pH of pure water is 7, however, pH can vary based on the topological and geographical conditions.
The temperature of the water plays a crucial role in sustaining aquatic life and their habitat. For industrial applications too, the temperature of the water is essential to be monitored for efficient operations and increased production rate.
4) Dissolved Oxygen:
BOD or biological oxygen demand is a parameter that is rudimentary for the fragmentation of organic compounds present in the water by various micro-organisms.
5) Conductivity and TDS:
As water is the universal solvent, it dissolves almost every available salt. The high concentration of TDS (total dissolved salts) in water increases its conductivity which affects the breeding and growth of aquatic life.
High salt strengths in water also increase salinity. Saline water cannot be used for potable purposes and also isn’t appropriate for domestic, industrial, or agricultural usage.
These parameters when measured through water quality monitoring devices allow an IoT system to perform real-time water quality monitoring that can be used to develop useful insights and take informed actions.
Applications of Automatic Water Quality Monitoring Systems
The technology of Internet of Things has enabled the creation of smart water quality monitoring solutions that are evolving the modus operandi of different industries. Below is a list of some sector that can benefit from the implementation of these systems:
1) Water Utilities:
Water suppliers and utilities need to ensure the supply of nutrient-rich water that the consumers can use for drinking and other purposes. By implementing IoT based solutions of water quality measurement, the utilities can monitor the quality of the distributed water in overhead tanks and even in pipelines.
Optimum water quality is a pre-requisite for high yield of crop production. Based on the crop to be cultivated, the sensors and probes can be used to identify impurities that can hamper its growth. This will help farmers to enhance their irrigation practices and ensure a high yield of healthy crops.
Aquaculture refers to the breeding of aquatic organisms like fishes, under a controlled environment. Quality of water plays an essential role in facilitating the growth of healthy fishes and crustaceans in large numbers so that they can be used as a livestock.
4) Research Facilities and Laboratories:
Laboratories and research facilities require near 100% pure or distilled water to conduct conclusive experiments. Water with low pH and suspended particles is hence required for determining accurate and reliable results. Because of wireless measurement of water quality parameters, laboratories and test sites can conduct experiments without worrying about errors caused due to the presence of impurities.
5) Wastewater Treatment:
Wastewater generated is to be treated and managed before it is discharged into a freshwater body. Parameters like temperature, turbidity, and TDS are hence to be monitored to make sure that the water is treated properly before it is secreted. Smart water quality monitoring system using IoT optimize the inspection processes and hence reduce the need for manual interference.
6) Manufacturing Units:
Production and manufacturing-based companies often discharge chemicals and other harmful fluids in rivers. Strict regulations are hence imposed on them to make sure that no harm is made to the aquatic life. Factories can hence use real-time water quality monitoring to make sure that compliance is conformed as per the imposed regulations.
By using the technology of Internet of Things, the method of measuring water quality can be done automatically from far off locations via advanced telematics. The applications of the water quality systems in different fields are limitless and will, therefore, change the way these sectors operate.