Last week, we began reviewing the challenges in regards to collecting water quality data.
Recap of Challenge 1 - Repair & Maintenance Costs
There are three major ways to collect water quality data:
- Lab Sampling
- Spot Sampling
- Continuous Monitoring
Collecting water quality data can be expensive due to the cost of maintaining and repairing equipment. Instrument users face a challenge with aging equipment and high repair costs for older products. When choosing your long-term water quality monitoring instrumentation look for: Wet-mateable connectors, new polymers and titanium housing, biofouling measures, and factory service. Read more about the challenge of rising repair and maintenance costs.
This week, let's take a look at the future of collecting water quality data. Collecting water quality data is determined by three major categories:
- The monitoring one wants to do
- The monitoring one should do
- The monitoring one must do
"Water quality monitoring costs money, it takes time, and results can be difficult to interpret. There are many reasons to monitor, some more desirable than others. In fact, it may be hard to find any other water-related issue that growers are more emotional about than monitoring, except perhaps regulation." (Brian Boman, Chris Wilson, and Esa Ontermaa, University of Florida, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ch177).
That brings us to Challenge #2, uncertainty. Uncertainty with future project requirements, and aging monitoring equipment, leave the water quality monitoring community wondering "What next?". There are a lot of outside forces that can affect monitoring programs, and like mentioned above, one of the most emotional ones is the monitoring one must do. A simple term for this type of monitoring is "compliance" or "regulation." Water monitoring compliance or regulation is determined by legislation. New regulations can change monitoring requirements in an instant, increasing your workload, and potentially requiring the purchase of new equipment.
For example, in the past few years, the US EPA has rolled out a national initiative for nutrient reduction. In response, water quality monitors are being asked to monitor nitrate levels, which they may have not done before. Water monitoring professionals need to be flexible to take on this challenge, this requires flexible technology. Problem is...flexibility with older technology isn't quite as easy. It is not feasible to continue to use monitoring equipment and software that was developed 20+ years ago. Why? It is more difficult than ever to simply connect and pull data from older instruments. Technology is constantly pushing forward with new operating systems, hardware and communication options. It is a challenge just to stay compatible these days. Just consider all of the technological advances in the last 20 years...water quality instrumentation has advanced as well.
What is the industry doing to address these uncertainties?
The good news is that there have been huge strides towards improving flexibility of monitoring equipment in the recent years. Companies, like YSI, have shifted their main focus of product development to modularity and giving users the ability to create customizable sensor configurations. Less versatile designs are becoming a thing of the past.
What can you do?
Look for versatile equipment that can be used in an array of applications. continuous monitoring instrumentation like EXO and spot/lab sampling instrumentation like the ProODO, ProDSS or the Pro Plus do just that. If you need to monitor dissolved oxygen, temperature and algae concentration this season, and pH, turbidity, and ammonia levels next season, look for one instrument that can measure all of these parameters. Dozens of application-specific instruments are now being consolidated into one or two systems that are a "jack of all trades." Purchasing monitoring equipment is an investment; make sure it pays off by supporting your varying needs over the next 5-10 years. Lastly, look for ways to make your data more accessible. Look for equipment with built-in Bluetooth and/or the ability to easily connect to a computer via USB connections.
Top 5 Challenges:
- Repair & maintenance costs
- Uncertain future
- Incomplete or inaccurate data
- Budget reduction
- Training Employees
Additional Blog Posts of Interest:
Top 5 Challenges to Collecting Water Quality Data - Challenge 1
10 Tips to Prevent Biofouling on Water Quality Instruments
Storing Your YSI Instruments for the Season? We'll Teach You How
Advantages of Smart Sensors and Ports on Water Quality Sondes