WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

Submitted
Gathering votes
Support
Gathering votes
Originality
Refine
Eligible
Close
Approved
Thank you for joining in the refinement process and supporting this idea. The idea submitter has passed all the milestones and is now eligible for final judging.

River Watch Water Testing Device

We want to make available to all New Zealanders a simple accurate water quality testing device that will help determine the amount of pollution in our waterways.  The device floats in water and can take measurements for up to 48 hours.  Measurement data is downloaded to a phone app using a Bluetooth connection.  This data is then automatically sent to the WAI NZ website with a GPS location tagged to the data.

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

Deteriorating water quality throughout New Zealand has become a major problem.  Robust water quality data is required so that improvement or further deterioration can be tracked.  To date, this data is sparse and expensive to collect using traditional water testing methods.  The River Watch water testing device is simple to operate, portable, can collect data over a period of up to 48 hours, the data can be readily accessed from the phone app and is GPS tagged.    

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

The River Watch water testing device uses sensors to measure four important freshwater parameters: temperature, conductivity, turbidity and pH levels. The measurements are downloaded onto our Android phone app which stores and provides a read-out of the data transmitted from the water testing device.  This data can be sent to the Water Action Initiative (WAI) NZ website and saved with a GPS location onto a map of New Zealand.  The data stored on the map will build a mosaic of data that can be tracked over time showing water quality movements.Using the River Watch water testing device in conjunction with the WAI NZ website allows people to submit the data as an accurate real-time record, providing robust Citizen science data collection.  The information provided by this data will create an invaluable resource for all stakeholders involved in water conservation management.  

What makes your idea new and unique?

 

Four seperate testing probesTests for pH, conductivity, temperature & turbidity

Can carry up to six probes ·         Portability·         Reliability·         Accuracy·         Real-time data·         Simple to use·         Collects data for up to a 48-hour period·         Micro USB port for charging·         Bluetooth communication·         Phone app integration·         Website GPS map location·         Affordability 

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

The aim is to provide an accurate water testing device that can be used by any member of the public including volunteers, communities, conservation groups, education institutions and local government.  This device will benefit New Zealander’s by providing a user friendly tool to help target and mitigate the widespread problem of point and non-point discharge into our freshwater ways.  It is cost effective Citizen science with scientific parameters that cannot be disputed.  

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

This money would be used to:

·         Develop the prototype for commercial production

·         Develop software and phone app for IOS and Microsoft platforms

·         Continued employment of full time staff member to develop and promote the River Watch water testing device

 

·         Begin the commercial production of the River Watch water testing device.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?

YES

I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2016 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Community Guidelines

YES

List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

Barcoding Whitebait: It would be important to monitor water quality a in conjunction with species identification.

River Snake: water quality data would be required to measure the effectiveness of the snakes placement.

ET find Kiwi:  The data from River Watch gathered by ET, allows one operator to gather data throughout an entire catchment. 

Predator Free NZ FacebooK  Data from River Watch could be tagged to the Predator Free Facebook platform. 

 

Nothing is More Powerful:  scientific data will be required to take fiduciary action.

How could you improve your idea?

The River Watch water testing device has been developed in collaboration with Victoria University's School of Engineering and Computer Science.  The River Watch collaboration has been running for five years with Year 3 students.

improvements would include the addition of two other further probes that would measure nitrates/nitrites and phosphorus.

Double the current battery life, which will extend the range of the device and its ability to communicate with UAV drones.

Modifying the protytype for salt water conditions particularly in-shore turbidity and pH which will allow early identification of ocean acidification and sedimentation.

 

Permanent deployment platform allowing the River Watch water testing device to be easily deployed and removed from sites which require ongoing monitoring.  Such as significant rivers with public access for recreation, to forecast and monitor toxic algal blooms. 

Tagged users
edited on Oct 12, 2016 by Joanne Jackson

IngeBolt 6 months ago

Great idea, so sad we now have this problem!

Reply

John Caldwell 6 months ago

Excellent idea! I hope you also make a companion device that works in salt water.

Reply

KenSims 6 months ago

A great idea. Well worth supporting.

Reply

misslee 6 months ago

Hi - i don't know much about water testing devices and i hope you can enlighten me! How is this different to ones currently in use by councils or scientists? Are all your points unique to your device or is it the 'share-ability' and 'open-source-ness' that is really the innovation?

Reply

Grant Muir 6 months ago

other water testing probes only have one probe and one measurement. Also they will only sample at the time they are immersed in the water. This does not provide data that accurately test flowing water. Water changes throughout the day and with our device we can test over 48 hrs (which is our current battery life) providing an accurate triage of what is happening in that location. The gps and phone app interface is an innovative bit of software that will read the collected data and show it in simple lay person terms as well as numeric data charts. With access to this type of data regional council staff will be able to better forecast toxic algae blooms and build a comprehensive data set over time for monitored water bodies. The savings in staff time and ability to cover larger areas in their catchment using the River Watch tester will be a huge advance on what is currently available. Also friends of river groups will be able to collect their own data knowing that it is an accurate record of their water way.

Reply

Dave_West 6 months ago

Kia ora Grant, there are an increasing number of expensive Water Quality loggers (sondes) that have multi-parameter probes we scientists use. But I see your idea filling a lower cost and user friendly gap. Determining the best parameters will be a challenge as Fiona alludes to with requests for nitrate and phosphates. What is easiest to measure and most important to measure may not be the same thing e.g. I don't think nitrate is easy to measure reliably. I and some more vocal freshwater scientists are of the opinion that dissolved oxygen (DO) in our lowland waterbodies is an unmeasured impact with diurnal sags in DO stressing, killing fish and aquatic life. Hence a 48 hr measurement of water temperature and DO would be of great use. Wide uptake and use of the River Watch logger would fill a large gap in our understanding of water quality impacts on our lowland water bodies. Best wishes Dave West (Conservation Ambassador living in Christchurch ;))

Reply

Grant Muir 6 months ago

thanks Dave for your advice and support. Yes we are wanting to fill the gap with a user friendly lower cost testing device. The DO logging over 48 hrs has been a priority and our advice concurs with yours that we are witnessing diurnal sags, killing off fish due to lack of oxygen. Hopefully the river watch device will help those managing these resources..

Reply

View all replies (3)

Fiona Edwards 6 months ago

Hi I'm a Conservation Ambassador living in Raglan where water quality has been a major issue for our community for many years. I like that this device is robust, portable and able to collect data for 48 hours. Water quality testing is usually expensive and generally only gives a snapshot in time - especially if testing for Ecoli. It would be good to know what contaminants/pollutants and water quality parameters this device would measure?

Reply

Grant Muir 6 months ago

The device currently measures PH, water temperature, conductivity, and turbidity. We are working on another 2 probes as it can carry a maximum of 6. Nitrates and phosphate are 2 possibles. E Coli is more difficult and for accurate test needs to be done in a lab. We are in contact with developers overseas that have prototyped a device that uses a spectrometer to measure E Coli levels on site. But because of the different types of this bacteria lab testing will always be required once a outbreak is determined.

Reply

Fiona Edwards 6 months ago

Thanks for the extra information - it would be great to include nitrates and phosphates if possible and the spectrometer to measure E coli levels is exciting. I'm also interested in how collecting the data will then translate into action and/or enforcement of existing rules to protect water quality. Will posting the data on a map be enough to inspire improvements in water quality? Good luck with your application.

Reply

Grant Muir 6 months ago

Our phone app that collects the data is linked to our website wainz.org.nz, the data is published on the map and poor water quality notifications are sent automatically to the regional council that manages that area. Over time this will build a mosaic of data covering every catchment.

Reply

Fiona Edwards 6 months ago

Hi Grant - perhaps you could add a feedback system - so visitors to your site can see what action Council's have taken? Maybe have a rating/ranking system for Council responsiveness/ actions? Your notification system assumes Council will take action, which regrettably is not always the case.

Reply

Grant Muir 6 months ago

thanks for feedback and ideas. Sadly the reality is that our Councils often ignore citizen science and pollution reports. This is why we have been careful to develop accuracy for measurements that our tester produces, as the councils often say that they lack the scientific evidence to act. Ranking their response or lack of would be interesting to graph.

Reply

Fiona Edwards 6 months ago

Sounds great - go for it and good luck with your application.

Reply

View all replies (6)

skipper762 6 months ago

This is a good idea, but a very big breach of IP. The device was funded and developed by Victoria University of Wellington (Not by Grant or WaiNZ). I would strongly suggest that Grant contact the university ASAP and arrange an IP agreement, as the university is aggressive when it comes to IP.
A student who worked on the device previously

Reply

Grant Muir 6 months ago

I suggest you check your facts first before making such inflammatory comments. The device IP is shared between Victoria and WAINZ and unless it gets 30 votes for shortlisting then it will never get off the ground. As a past student who you claim worked on this I would have expect more from you than to post such a comment. It shows disrespect for all concerned.

Reply

skipper762 6 months ago

No disrespect intended, was merely trying making you aware that the university does not respond well to this sort of thing without consultation. Was there a signed IP agreement with the university or was it word of mouth? I just want to ensure that you do not end up in a legal battle with the university over something so trivial.

Reply

JimmyMuir 6 months ago

Hi Skipper. Thanks for your concern. There is indeed an IP agreement between WAINZ and Vic Uni. We entered into a collaborative project with Vic Uni in 2011. This project is a result of WAI NZ initiative and ideas backed by research from the many students who have been part of the course that this project features in. Funding for this project will make it possible for all those students who have added a little bit to this project over the years see their work and the work of WAI NZ become a reality.

Reply

EnviroTechGal 6 months ago

Looks like some incredible technical work has been done here by the Victoria University students! Nice job! It is fantastic that the university offers such a hands on course for the students to make a difference in the world!
IP aside, it is a shame that you all haven't been credited in this post for your hard work and success. That would have been respectful in terms of giving praise where it is due. Keep changing the world with your tech work team!

Reply

JimmyMuir 6 months ago

Yes there has been some great work done and milestones achieved by very many students over the past 5 years of the course running, each class building upon the last. Lets see if we can get this funded and into use all around NZ so that we can better monitor the health of our freshwater. That way every person who has contributed can be proud that they have been part of something unique and worthwhile. That is the true fulfilment of this project.

Reply

View all replies (5)

Blake Worsfold 6 months ago

Lets make this happen.

Reply

Christopher Wingate 6 months ago

I am hoping to get your support to vote for Dr Maggie Evans who until I intervened only had 2 votes. Her work is critical science to help save critically endangered birds such as the Kakapo. Please take a look and lets all give her our support. We are all in this together. Cheers- https://wwf-nz.crowdicity.com/post/285779

Reply

Christopher Wingate 6 months ago

Greetings. I see you plan to cover the key parameters but what about overall water quality, and only for 48 hr randomly? - and who will make the data usable and what is behind support systems for calibrating, gathering? Maybe doing upstream downstream research around industrial sites or pre post flooding would be good.

Reply

Share