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TracWater robots used to monitor water quality at remote island

Problem statement

Delivering safe potable water in most coastal island and remote inland communities in Australia is challenging. Lack of accessibility, difficult water treatment plant operating conditions, lack of mains power supply, poor water catchment capacity and ability to measure water quality are just some of the constraints involved.

Potable water delivery at a remote island site was being managed by an automated “packaged water treatment plant” operating remotely, serviced irregularly, and running on diesel-generated power supply. The water supply to the treatment plant was from stored rainwater supplemented in dry weather by water delivered by barge from the mainland. Measuring processed potable water quality at the sites was logistically difficult, time-consuming, and costly.

Any technical adjustment to improve water treatment plant operations and water quality was also very expensive. It required engineers to visit the site to make adjustments followed by further visits by technicians to take water quality measurements at the site to verify the corrected water treatment plant operation.

Figure 1. Water treatment plant located on the island.

In 2019 TracWater was tasked with designing and implementing a solution to monitor water quality in real time at this island water treatment plant. The goals were to:

  • Provide automatic real-time measurement and reporting of chemical and physical water quality parameters.

  • Always ensure that the water being supplied by the water treatment plant met the required health guidelines for safe water delivery.

  • Reduce the cost and frequency of travel to send technicians to the island to verify water quality.

  • Reduce the amount of water volume required to make automatic water quality measurements.

Figure 2. Water Quality Testing required technicians to travel by boat to the island.


​TracWater developed a project to supply and install a TracWater portable water quality analyser inside the water treatment plant room. The solution would:

  • ​Operate on its own rechargeable power source to be able to function if generator -supplied power to the site failed for any reason.

  • Continuously measure water temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, oxygen reduction potential, disinfection residual and water pressure on the output side of the water treatment process.

  • Continuously monitor itself for operational stability measuring its on-board power supply capacity, communications signal strength, data transmission, tamper-proof security, and sample water flow to all sensors.

  • Make measurements every 5 minutes, store up to 2 years of measurements.

  • Provide remote alarms and alerts by email and SMS when required.

  • Be in real-time communication with water quality technicians located far away from the island who could control the settings of sensors, communication and timing of operation of the TracWater water quality analyser.


The TracWater water quality analyser began to record erratic free chlorine measurements over a few days triggering alarms and alerts in the TracWater cloud management portal. Suddenly free chlorine levels spiked up to 5mg/L and stayed at this level triggering all TracWater alarm cloud-based alarms for the site.

TracWater technicians and water utility staff were dispatched urgently by boat to the site. Once there onsite measurements were taken confirming free chlorine levels at 8mg/L at the treatment plant.

Immediate “do not use” notifications were issued by water utility staff while at the same time TracWater staff performed check calibrations on all sensors in the TracWater portable unit. All sensors were found to be accurate, and operating correctly and reporting to the cloud.

Examination of treatment plant operation showed that some treatment plant processes had failed requiring manual disinfection dosing and that the dosing regime was not being properly controlled or reported to SCADA operational systems. There was no warning of the issue being received by utility operational teams.

The water quality team was the first to be alerted to the failed water quality on the island because it had direct reporting of multiple water quality measurements being made every 5 minutes by the TracWater portable water quality analyser located in the water treatment plant.

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