The supply of drinking water that is healthy, clean and palatable is a fundamental requirement of the European drinking water directive. World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for drinking water are used as a basis for the standards in the Drinking Water Directive (DWD).
In recent years the water sector has become a widespread user of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for planning and operation. These technologies are need not only to comply with stricter regulations and safety measures, rising quality standards and challenging social and environmental demands but also to face serious problems of aging infrastructure, which includes leakage and quality issues related to the water supply network.
As a result, there has been a growing demand for Real Time (RT) water management solutions, however, these technologies are still far from mature and they do not provide a real solution to the water sector needs for analysis, control and data measurement. Current water probes/sensors have traditional inconveniences that limit their usage for water quality control in supply networks:
- Unsustainable energy consumption
- Manual calibration at laboratory
- High maintenance needs
- Electrolyte leakage (for reference electrode)
- Lack of accuracy
These technical inconveniences have made sensor grids very difficult to implement but also the total cost of ownership (TCO) (equipment + installation + maintenance) makes economically prohibitive a widespread use. Besides, the key ICT challenges for the water sector relate to the economics of providing arrays of low cost sensors that could be deployed in remote locations, to data communications from these remote locations and to the powering of such sensors and communications.
Therefore, the water sector demands the incorporation of new technologies to increase the efficiency of operation without increasing the costs, basically they need an instrument with the features proposed by WIDESENS device. These features are:
- It measures the most important parameters related to the quality of water
- It is able to detect leaks
- It is easy to install
- It requires low maintenance and little number of visits
- It is low cost
- It consumes low power
The main objective of the WIDESENS Project is to develop, implement and test a novel multiparametric analytical probe based on unconventional sensors that will be economically viable for widespread use in water networks.
The WIDESENS work‐plan has been divided into 7 work packages that will be carried out in 27 months.
WIDESENS aims at creating a product for ensuring the quality of the drinking water with clear future market potential both inside and outside Europe in line with the objective of the call and the aims of the Innovation Union.
The WIDESENS project will have positive impacts on:
- Water Utilities & authorities- WIDESENS will give a further insight on what it is going on in the water grid. This will allow water managers to improve water management processes like water chlorination, salinity adjustment, water leak detection, water quality management & assurance. In this way mangers responsible for the healthiness of water will have greater peace of mind as they will have a method for accurately ensuring the quality of the supply.
- Users and citizens- People will enjoy of safer water at home with improved chemical and physical characteristics: odour and taste.
- The environment- Less chlorine and improved water preservation through leak detection and associated alarms.
- EU legislation- Legislation will have to adapt to include the new possibilities offered by the developed technology.
- Beneficiary SMEs- SMEs will receive revenue for the commercialization of the WIDESENS system and it will also complement their current services´ portfolio making it more appealing to City Councils, Water Authorities, Water Utilities and other possible clients.
 World Health Organization (WHO). Guidelines for drinking-water quality, 3rd ed., 2008.
 Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption
 Sensor Grids for Water Distribution Networks and Waste Water Collection Systems. Eureka Water & ICT Working Group Oct 2011.