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  • by Trevor Loveday

Wessex Water unveils river water quality alert system for wild swimmers


Wessex Water has unveiled a river water quality monitoring app for swimmers that provides “near real-time information” on river bacteria levels ”so wild swimmers can chose whether to enter the water.” Still in its development phase, Wessex has set up an artificial intelligence-based system at a popular wild swimming spot near Bath. According to the water company It gives half-hourly predictions on bacteria levels at Warleigh Weir in the River Avon. Wessex claimed that current testing shows the algorithm behind the app to be 90% accurate

The app has emerged from a Wessex-led 12-month study at the Warleigh Weir site in partnership with the Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, landowner, Johnny Palmer and artificial intelligence provider, UnifAI Technology. It shows data on bacteria levels, collected by sensors at sample points at Warleigh and Monkton Combe every 30 minutes along with river temperature, water level, water flow and rainfall.

Wessex Water’s director of environmental solutions, Ruth Barden, said: “Bacteria will always be present in rivers due to wildlife, run-off from agricultural land, regulated storm overflows and treated sewage discharges. But we want to help the increasing number of wild swimmers and recreational river users make an informed choice.”

The company said it was committed to “eliminating storm overflows, which sometimes operate during intense rainfall.” and was investing £3 million a month to reduce them, while calling on the government to change legislation that currently allows housing developers and property owners to connect surface water to combined sewers.


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