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Using new technology for measuring river health

The NSW Government are collaborating with Macquarie University to trial new technology for measuring water quality in NSW rivers.

Showing river health. Credit; Tim Haeusler

Using new technology for measuring river health

DPE Surface Water Science in collaboration with the Environment and Heritage Group and Macquarie University invested in developing innovative technology to test the use of Ramen spectroscopy. Raman spectroscopy works by irradiating water with a laser and analysing some of the scattered light with a spectrograph. The goal is to develop the ability to assess water quality over large areas via satellite. This may give an early warning of potential extreme events like fish kills.

Recent field trials have confirmed accurate inference of temperature and salinity. Work is continuing to develop measurement of dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll-a which could lead to an early warning of potentially harmful algal blooms.

Macquarie University staff in the field
Macquarie University staff in the field.

Outcomes of the project were that Raman signals can be retrieved and there is a better understanding of how to optimise the performance of the instrumentation available. This study is at the water surface and follow on work will need to be done to assess how these devices might be successfully drone or satellite mounted.

As with many new technologies, the development phase can be challenging, time consuming, expensive and speculative. The potential to monitor water quality via satellite state wide, as demonstrated by this initial project, is very encouraging.

More information

For more information, please contact the Water Science team: water.science@dpie.nsw.gov.au.