How to protect water resources with sensors

The quality of surface and groundwater is incredibly important. It is almost impossible to identify any economic activity which does not affect the quality or quantity of our water resources. We need water to keep our ecosystems alive, produce drinking water, irrigate crops, transport vast amounts of goods by ship, attract tourists, and discharge domestic and industrial wastewater.

All these activities put increasing pressure on our available water resources.

Protecting our water resources against a wide variety of natural and anthropogenic pollutants is of vital importance to protect public health and preserve nature.


Only 2.5% of all available water on earth is freshwater
(National Geographic)


An estimated 144,000 man-made chemicals exist across the globe.
(European Chemicals Agency)


Over 100,000 miles of US rivers and streams have poor water quality due to nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.


28% of EU surface waters and 18% of EU ground waters suffer from nutrient pollution.
(European Environment Agency)


The Lockyer and Mid Brisbane River integrated sensor network for source water monitoring of a drinking water treatment plant

The source water for one of SEQWater’s drinking water treatment plants shows large variations in turbidity and organic loads as well as hardness and salinity, related to high- or low-flow conditions. The ability of the treatment plant to continue and manage supply through this high salinity or high turbidity events is partially reliant on the early detection of poor water quality issues in the river, and the subsequently increased dilution of poorer quality water with higher quality water.

Significant savings could have been made if a more robust and resilient installation design had been selected at the start of the project.

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Dommel Eindhoven sewer network

Use of a network of sensors to upgrade Eindhoven WWTP and improve ecological status of its receiving water

De Dommel Water Management Board in the Netherlands uses a network of online water quality and water quantity sensors in sewer networks and wastewater treatment plants in order to calibrate detailed models which describe the dynamics of the whole Eindhoven urban wastewater system. The WWTP was upgraded to improve the water quality and ecological status of the surface water receiving the effluent discharge. This showcase is an exemplary case of using monitoring results to calibrate detailed models which describe the dynamics of the whole Eindhoven urban wastewater system. These models were used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different upgrade scenarios, addressing the need to improve water quality in order to comply with water quality regulations.

The results of the evaluation showed that a combination of relatively inexpensive sensor strategies could be used to address water quality issues in the whole urban wastewater system, allowing for the identification of effective solutions to achieve the defined surface water quality objectives.

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Western Australia landscape

Drinking Water in Remote Areas

Water Corporation Western Australia faces the challenge of collecting reliable water quality data in remote areas to check compliance with Drinking Water Guidelines. Access to communication is often very limited; on-site calibration of one sensor in a remote area costs around $1,500. Sensors thus need to be very robust and meet unusual technical requirements. This showcase describes the utility’s approach towards this challenge, where some sites are accessed by satellite to collect water quality data.

Benefits of the chosen approach include a significant reduction in risk due to better knowledge of water quality being delivered, quicker response to out-of-spec conditions and therefore a reduction in incident costs.

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Free expert advice

Nutrient pollution is a major problem across the globe. Interested in a free consult on protecting resources against nutrient pollution? Answer the four questions below and receive tailor-made inspiration for further actions.


What is the main water resource of concern?

What is the main source of nutrient pollution in the water resource of concern?

What is the main objective of reducing nutrient pollution in the water resource of concern?

What is the first thing you need to help your organisation move forward on this issue?

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