One of the issues with today's quality control of drinking water is the involved manual labour. Whenever a utility wants to measure the bacteria level in the drinking water they have to use employees, or subcontractors, to sample the water at a given location. This induces a cost associated to sampling which does not scale very favourably. As a result the utilities are not able to sample very often, simply because it becomes too expensive.
The involvement of manual labour is also a valid consideration for a sensor which performs online and real-time bacteria mesurements in drinking water, since the sensor system will require some degree of periodic service. SBT Aqua is working extensively to reduce the maintenance requirements for our sensing unit which is also the focus of our field-testing of the "Emma" demo-model. Emma has now been running continuously at Vilstrup Vandværk, operated by Verdo Vand, for 1 month without any issues or service, and the transmitted data has yet to show any signs of system malfunction. The testing period for Emma is scheduled to be two months after which the demo-model will be removed and its components thoroughly investigated.
Work is still ongoing on the fully functional demo-model. We are producing very interesting results in the lab at the moment with our in-house model! Denmark genereally has great drinking water, and the probability of encountering a contamination outbreak in a testing period of a few months is insignificant. Therefore it is essential that we emulate real life contamination events to determine the system response. The case we have chosen to focus on is a scenario where diluted waste water enters the continuous flow of clean drinking water as it is the absolutely worst case scenario in the water sector. Our goal is to detect such an event within minutes so that our upcoming sensor system will be able to alert the utilities quickly to ultimately reduce the number of people affected.
An update will follow on our contamination studies. Be sure to sign up to our newsletter so you don't miss it!
PS: We are working on the quality of the images that we put up here since an iPhone does not seem to suffice as a camera.