Remote water sensing technology with cloud-based platform to support environmental compliance monitoring during the COVID‑19 pandemic

Mundle, Scott | $75,000

Ontario University of Windsor 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

In the face of the global COVID‑19 pandemic, environmental compliance monitoring has been limited and, in some cases, suspended because of social distancing requirements and other shortages in shipping services, laboratory analyses, and travel options. However, without these essential monitoring practices in place, environmental agencies, communities, and water utilities are facing unprecedented challenges to complete quality control, prevent pollution and maintain public safety. For example, in April 2020, Alberta suspended the compliance monitoring at 16 oilsands projects. Many northern communities, including indigenous communities, have raised concerns about the reduced environmental compliance monitoring during the pandemic. The rapidly growing concerns for potential water incidents call for a supplementary compliance monitoring program, which can provide remote access to sufficient data related to water quality changes and respond to pollution in real-time. The urgency of developing this technology is high with the risk of additional waves of virus outbreaks that could further postpone environmental monitoring.

The purpose of this project is to adapt this technology to support remote environmental compliance monitoring under COVID‑19 pandemic scenarios. Once adapted, we will implement this freshwater analyzer at high-risk locations to use cloud-based data systems that will provide real-time comprehensive trending data related to water quality changes to stakeholders and regulators. We currently have ongoing projects in greenhouse, agricultural, and oil/gas field watersheds that will serve as sample sites. We will also study a list of emerging contaminants related to the ongoing COVID‑19 pandemic, which may have been in, or would be released into watersheds via wastewater discharge or surface runoffs.

With remote real-time monitoring via a cloud-based platform, the project outcome will allow the government, conservation authorities, and regulatory agencies to effectively measure, monitor and identify pollution sources remotely during social distancing measures.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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