Litmus Technologies have launched a project in partnership with Chichester University and facilitated by Chichester Harbour Conservancy, that aims to provide real-time pollution monitoring in the harbour.
Project Lifebuoy aims to deploy a series of buoys into the harbour that will monitor the quality of water and transmit the results back in real time. The project is being funded by a group of local businesspeople who formed the company to try and tackle the problem of water pollution monitoring.
Chief marketing officer Sean Curtis said: ‘Traditional methods to check water quality require someone to travel to the location, take a sample, send it off to a lab then wait for the results. This is costly and means the information isn’t immediately available to harbour users.
‘Our families are lucky enough to be able to swim, sail, fish and kayak in this beautiful area and we wanted to develop a better solution where the information is instantly available.’
The information will then be analysed by Chichester University to build an Artificial Intelligence model.
Professor Dave Cooper, head of the Business School at Chichester University said: ‘Chichester University has an experienced AI and Data Analytics team and we will look at tides, weather, pollution events, plus all the water sensor readings to enhance our understanding of water quality in the harbour.’
Water quality in the harbour is affected by a number of factors, from farming to sewage to commercial run-off and Litmus has been designed to accommodate multiple sensors that measure different aspects of water quality.
The first buoy will measure PH levels, ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential), dissolved oxygen, conductivity and temperature, with following buoys measuring nitrate and phosphates (common in fertilisers) and e-coli (sewage).
Litmus Commercial Director Paul Evans said: ‘Our aim is to create a dashboard that will make the data available to everyone, from sailors to swimmers, to water companies, to the Environment Agency and Local Government.
‘By measuring all these factors and comparing results against traditional testing, we can build the most comprehensive, continuous picture of how different factors affect the water in the harbour.’
In July Southern Water was fined a record £90m after an Environment Agency prosecution. The water company admitted causing widespread pollution in water along the south coast and pleaded guilty to 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges.