10 August 2021 ICFO Collaborates with ACA on Innovations to Monitor Water Quality

The Catalan Water Agency (ACA) launches video illustrating commitment to the safest and cleanest possible bathing areas Never is the quality of the beaches and public swimming areas more under scrutiny than in the summer months when millions head into the water of the Catalan coasts to beat the heat. 91% of public bathing areas in Catalonia achieve an “excellent” water quality classification thanks mainly to the work of the Catalan Water Agency (Agència Catalana de l’Aigua- ACA). Their monitorization of water quality takes place throughout the year but goes a step further when the bathers hit the beaches. From June through September, the ACA conducts periodic analytical controls on the water for each bathing area, publishing the results on the web where they can be accessed by the general public.

In 2020, ICFO joined forces with the ACA to develop a new system to detect and monitor undesirable microorganisms (mainly intestinal enterococci and escherichia coli) in Catalonia’s beaches and bathing waters which may dramatically increase in numbers mainly after episodes of heavy rain and flooding. The new mechanism that is developing in the research group led by ICREA Prof Valerio Pruneri, will detect possible alterations of water quality in situ and in a period of no more than 3 hours. The collaboration also aims to integrate a system to monitor the presence of phytoplankton, rapidly analysing phytoplankton concentrations. While measures currently in place are guaranteeing safety and water quality, they take a considerable amount of time, and time is of great importance when assessing whether a beach is again fit for bathing. ACA aims to go a step further, advancing in innovation through this collaboration with ICFO by offering a tool to city halls and other stakeholders to get quantitative water quality results much faster, thus, improving the efficiency in the use of the natural environment while guaranteeing its quality and safety.

ACA has recently released an informative video in which they explain the work that they do to guarantee the excellent quality of the water, the types of analysis they carry out, prevention and security tasks, and information channels for keeping the public informed of the water quality in bathing areas.