IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Water-Monitoring Moves into Real-Time

Castle Rock State Park in California is using the KETOS water-monitoring system which conducts continuous tests of the park's drinking water.

Water-quality testing is moving into the big-data world of real-time, drop-by-drop, monitoring.
A California state park has taken a step into “digital water” with real-time monitoring of well-water to generate monthly water-quality reports, as well as detecting daily anomalies and sounding alerts for elements like Manganese, say officials.
“You start understanding your water. You start understanding how your water is getting treated by the treatment system you have put in the park. And then, knowing what’s getting treated, and then the output of the water is also important. Because then you know when to go change the filtration system,” explained Meena Sankaran, founder and CEO of KETOS, an IoT water monitoring system used by Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains near San Jose, Calif. 
The KETOS system, which is EPA compliant, differs from traditional forms or water-testing by testing the water all the time as moves through a distribution network by measuring it against about a dozen parameters.
“It’s a complete autonomous unmanned system. You install it. You tie it in with a tube of water… And you walk away,” said Sankaran.
“So you can understand lead, copper, arsenic, Chromium, Cadmium… We can do early detection of carcinogenic chemicals for public health, all of the above,” she added. “And that makes a massive difference because now… no customer of ours has asked, why are you doing it? The question is always, how do we work with it?”
Generally speaking, conventional water-testing is a point-in-time analysis with a probe taking a single sample, and then having technicians carry out a range tests.
“Now, there’s more and more need, and more and more demand, where people are saying, wait a minute. Why aren’t you monitoring water continuously, when we have so much advanced diagnostics in the power sector, in the transportation sector… but somehow, that has not translated into the water sector. It sort of like, almost the last one left behind,” said Sankaran.
The KETOS system is described as the intersection of a “smart connected network, or IoT as you’ve been hearing it, and data science, but playing into the sector of water,” said Sankaran.
The first step is generating a wealth of data in order conduct an analysis and having enough data to parse out predictions of water quality.
The system is often used by the agriculture and industrial industries to monitor ground water.
“What we can do for the farmers is basically, tell them the optimal crop yield, based on water quality,” said Sankaran. “We’re not just telling them, ‘hey, you have boron in your water.’ But we’re kind of telling them, ‘hey, the amount of boron that’s in your water can affect your Alfalfa, or pears, or spinach, in this way.’
“Which becomes a business value, verses just looking at ground water,” she added. 
Water utilities tend to use the data to explore water recycling applications.
“Especially since California now has rule saying you do not want to use potable water for golf courses, and for non-drinking water purposes. So when water is treated, coming out of a treatment plant, how do we make sure that that water is actually applied correctly,” said Sankaran.
At Castle Rock the KETOS system was part of an overhaul of the park with a new 33-acre Kirkwood Entrance facility which includes additional parking, restroom facilities, picnic areas and more.
“Clean drinking water is a critical part of the success of a facility like the new Kirkwood Entrance at Castle Rock State Park,” said Sara Barth, executive director of Sempervirens Fund, a foundation that helps manage the park, in a statement. “With KETOS, park visitors can safely drink from the water fountain and fill their water bottles at the welcome plaza before continuing on to hike or climb at Castle Rock.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.