Sensors and Sensing Systems for Water Quality Monitoring

PI: Ravi Selvaganapathy, McMaster University 

Project ManagerRana Attalla

Co-I's: Karsten Liber, University of Saskatchewan; Scott Smith, Wilfrid Laurier University; Juewen Liu, University of Waterloo; Wahid Khan, University of Saskatchewan; Chang-qing Xu, McMaster University; Carolyn Ren, University of Waterloo; James McGeer, Wilfrid Laurier University; Jamal Deen, McMaster University; Charles deLannoy, McMaster University; Peter Kruse, McMaster University; Phillippe van Cappellen, University of Waterloo; Dawn Martin-Hill, McMaster University

Many watersheds and water sources both in Canada and across the world are under stress due to human activity as well as climate change. Population growth in urban areas as well as agricultural practices and resource extraction tend to introduce pollutants such as nutrients, metals, microorganisms, pharmaceuticals, industrial waste products and other emerging contaminants into watersheds. These water quality issues are further exacerbated by climate change and other environmental changes in watersheds. There is a critical need to gain a detailed understanding of the effect of human activities on the ecosystem and water in particular. A crucial part of that strategy involves the use of sensors and sensing systems that can be deployed in the environment to monitor for the presence of contaminants and their variation over the short and long time scales. Although sensors and sensing systems for long term monitoring exist for many of the parameters of interests (such as dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity, nitrates), they are not sufficiently low in cost and require technical expertise for operation and maintenance. In other cases such as some metals, phosphates and bacteria, continuous monitoring systems have yet to be developed. In this proposal, we will focus on two broad areas. 1) The development of low-cost sensing systems and its implementation for long term monitoring of water quality parameters; and 2) The development of specific low cost sensors that are capable of detecting pathogens, heavy metals, oxidants and nutrients and integrate them with the sensing system. The sensors and sensing systems will be field tested in collaboration with identified potential end users who have expressed interest in partnering with this project as well as partners in other GWF funded projects.