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A version of Intellitect Water’s multi-parameter water quality monitoring system that offers the advantages of online monitoring is on trial at Wessex Water’s sewage treatment works in Bournemouth.

The Intellisonde FE monitor was installed in January 2010 at the plant’s outfall, adjacent to traditional online monitoring instruments.

‘The trial is proceeding very well, with the Intellisonde FE producing measurements that closely mirror data from our other monitors and from manual tests,’ said Mike Robinson, Wessex Water’s regional waste scientist.

The Intellisonde FE is located in a flow-though chamber, which is fed by a submerged sampling pump located in a sump.

A level gauge ensures that the sump does not pump dry.

Inside the sonde head, tiny solid-state sensors continuously monitor conductivity, pH, temperature, turbidity and ammonium.

The unit can log at intervals between one minute and one hour on all parameters simultaneously and record on an internal data logger; however, data is transmitted via GPRS to a dedicated server that feeds a website to enable 24/7 access to almost live water quality information.

The graph shows recorded data during February and March 2010.

According to Robinson, no calibration or maintenance were necessary during this period.

Rainfall/stormwater events have a significant effect on temperature and conductivity.

David Vincent, Intellitect Water’s technical director, said: ‘The Environment Agency [EA] is currently engaged in a programme of passing the responsibility for collecting, analysing and reporting discharge quality to operators.

‘At the same time, the level of monitoring required will depend on the level of pollution risk that each discharge represents.

‘Consequently, operators, such as the water industry and the process industries, will have to develop a monitoring strategy that meets the requirements of the EA,’ he added.

Occasional sampling and analysis can be lower in cost than online monitoring.

However, the main disadvantages are that a pollution incident could go undetected between sampling times and that infrequent data does not support process optimisation.

In contrast, Vincent said that the Intellisonde FE will provide continuous access to effluent quality data and will, therefore, help to raise compliance levels even further.

The Intellisonde FE will also provide financial advantages, according to Intellitect Water.

‘If we can prove that the lifetime costs are as low as they appear and if the unit continues to perform reliably, the lack of a requirement for chemicals coupled with a low-maintenance requirement will mean that the Intellisonde FE could find application at a large number of treatment works,’ said Robinson.

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