The Joanneum Research Institute uses satellite communication to monitor spring water quality

The company

The Joanneum Research Institute for Water, Energy and Sustainability is an Austrian private research facility based in Graz, Austria. The Department of Water Resources carries out applied research on all components of the water cycle and associated solute transport processes, including interactions with the climate, land cover and human activities. Joanneum Research provides such information to water suppliers and governmental institutions dealing with water resources.

The challenge

Joanneum Research is contracted by users such as Vienna Waterworks and the Environment Agency Austria to provide water quality information on Alpine underground water resources. Alpine karst waters are an important source of drinking water, as well as highly sensitive to contamination with E. coli bacteria from faecal material from the surface, especially in case of heavy rains. Therefore, hydrogeological and hydrometeorological investigations, as well as event monitoring and sampling, are indispensable to get appropriate information for optimised water management. Joanneum Research was hence looking for a solution that would enable them to collect water quality data remotely, in near real time, and despite the lack of terrestrial telecommunication networks (GSM/GPRS) in these mountainous regions.

The satellite solution

Joanneum Research uses ORBCOMM, a satellite telecommunication system that ensures the connection between portable hydrometeorological measuring stations installed in water reserves, and web servers at their Central Monitoring Station (CMS). This enables Joanneum to collect remotely and in real time data on gauge-height, electrical conductivity, temperature, different quality parameters, precipitations or humidity, as well as during fully automated event-sampling campaigns. By linking the CMS to a web-server, such information can be transferred to the customers of Joanneum Research.

The result

This satcom system offers a reliable way to collect information from remote locations efficiently, and in near real time, helping Joanneum Research to provide its customers  with solid information on the quality of spring water, according to European safety standards.

Satellite communication is a precious and valuable tool in alpine remote regions, enabling us to provide essential data to our clients. Hermann Stadler, Joanneum Research

Legal quote: “Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean”. New Drinking Water Directive (consolidated) 98/83/EC