Redefining Water Quality Monitoring with Northumbrian Water

Daisy Allen (née Pinn) is an expert in microbiology

Get in touch Get in touch

WRc and Northumbrian Water research alternative ways to monitor sources and impacts of water pollution.

After just four months, we are delighted to share the positive outcomes of a collaboration with Northumbrian Water Ltd (NWL). The aim was to redefine water quality monitoring using a 'bio-sonde' - an innovative sensing device which can detect biological markers for a more accurate understanding of pollution sources in the freshwater environment.

In summer 2023, WRc sponsored and facilitated a workshop at NWL’s annual Innovation Festival to explore how the water quality monitoring requirements set out in the Environment Act (2021) could best be delivered. Over 50 attendees from across the water sector expressed concern that planned chemical monitoring (pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature and ammonia) will not give a complete picture of waterbody health, nor adequately demonstrate where water companies or other organisations are having an impact. There was ambition to do more.

Post-festival, NWL commissioned WRc to work on an ‘Innovation Kick-Starter' project to scope how the ‘bio-sonde’ could be applied, thinking ahead to which markers (i.e. biological molecules or organisms) could indicate the presence of faecal contamination and what technologies could be used for rapid detection in-situ.

Over four months, the project achieved four significant milestones:

  • Marker identification: Prioritising markers that could indicate faecal contamination and risk to public health.
  • Technology identification: Discovering cutting-edge technologies for detection of identified markers.
  • Technology evaluation: Assessing and comparing potential technologies for in-situ marker detection, defining bio-sonde success criteria.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Collaborating with regulators and stakeholders to achieve support for the bio-sonde concept.

Priority markers were identified which can determine the source of pollution in the environment, including the HF183 marker which is associated with human faecal contamination.

NWL's Objectives:

  • Improving understanding of waterbody health and company impact, while reducing costs associated with water industry national environment programme (WINEP) chemical monitoring obligations.
  • Demonstrate where assets are not adversely affecting waterbody health, reassuring customers and regulators.
  • Identify areas for environmental regeneration efforts.
  • Establish NWL as a leader in understanding and promoting waterbody health.

This collaboration between WRc and Northumbrian Water Ltd marks a significant step towards effective water quality monitoring, showcasing the power of collective innovation to recognise environmental challenges. Let's keep working together to create a current of positive change!

The challenge ahead to deliver the Continuous Water Quality monitoring is considerable in every aspect. Working with WRc on this project has identified realistic development opportunities for consideration in delivering an innovative solution enhancing our knowledge of river health.”- John Edwards, Technical Policy Manager at Northumbrian Water
Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Start a conversation

Full name
Email address
Company name
How can we help?

Can we stay in touch?

Your details will be stored within our CRM to allow us to handle your enquiry. We'd love to keep in touch and send you our newsletters and other notifications we think may be of interest to you. Please let us know if we have your permission for this.

Daisy Allen (née Pinn)

Senior Consultant (Microbiology)

Daisy is a Senior Consultant in Microbiology at WRc, with extensive experience in consulting, commercial, and research roles. She contributes to public health initiatives both nationally and internationally, focusing on microbiology workstreams related to current and emerging hazards, target identification, and risk-based decision-making. Daisy is a member of the Royal Society of Biology and Institute of Water. She has RSci registration.

2024-01-15 16:11:14