Part 2: Making sense of sensors in lakes

Missing the lake for the water

Phase 2: The pivot to citizen science

The failure of our IoT venture did not discourage us from our quest to improve data for better management of lakes. We pivoted to a ‘humans as sensors’ approach — we would collaborate with lake groups and low-cost sensing technology partners and encourage citizens lake group volunteers to measure water quality in lakes. We partnered with the Foundation for Environmental Monitoring (FFEM), a local Bengaluru-based start-up that had developed a smartphone-based test kit designed for monitoring water in lakes and rivers. The kit was able to measure nitrates and phosphates. (We also tested chlorophyll and Dissolved Oxygen kits but these were not accurate.)

Getting humans to collect data is not an easy task.
Video: How do excess nutrients cause problems in lakes?
Lakes that receive raw sewage throughout the year, improve in the monsoon when rainwater dilutes the sewage.
In lakes with a diversion drain, sewage mixed with stormwater enters the lake in the monsoon, worsening water quality.

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Veena Srinivasan

Researcher@ ATREE Interested in water resources, urbanization, hydrology, and sustainable development