ICRA's SENVES+ technology presented at COP26 as a solution for sustainable urban water management

The SENVES + technology of the Catalan Institute for Water Research (ICRA), based on smart sensors for real-time monitoring of combined sewer overflows (CSO) was presented today at the COP26 climate change summit as an example of an innovative solution for the sustainable and low-cost management of water services in cities facing challenges from climate change.

Jochen Rabe, director of the Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin, the centre for applied water research and coordinator of the European project Digital-water.city (DWC) in which ICRA participates, has presented at COP26 some solutions to address some of the main impacts of climate change. These include the increase of storm episodes that can produce an overload of sewer systems causing wastewater spills and severe pollution events in the environment around urban areas.

One of the solutions presented has been the SENVES+ technology developed by the Technology and Evaluation Area (TiA) of ICRA. SENVES+ uses low-cost temperature sensors, which are currently being deployed in Sofia, Berlin, and Milan, for monitoring of CSOs and floods.

Oriol Gutiérrez, co-creator of SENVES+ and researcher leading ICRA's participation in DWC, explains: “the main type of sewer infrastructure in European cities is a sewer system call combined sewer network: a single set of pipes that transports wastewater to the treatment plant while draining excess rainwater to prevent flooding. This becomes a problem when there is an excess of rainwater and an overflow is caused. Then, the mixture of rainwater and wastewater is released directly into the environment without proper treatment. There is, already, an increase in storm episodes caused by global warming which threatens to worsen these problems.

The technology developed by the team of Oriol Gutiérrez is based on a simple concept: “we place smart sensors in specific places of the sewer pipes to measure temperature changes when the water level rises or falls. These sensors capture data from the entire network, which is sent for analysis to a central platform managed by our Spanish partner IoTsens. Finally, the data obtained allow cities to take practical measures to address these overflows.

Several EU reports highlight that cities will need massive investments over the next ten years to ensure compliance with environmental protection and human health. This includes improved treatment capabilities, better control of rainfall events, and a significant reduction in sewer overflows. In this sense, ICRA's SENVES+ solution stands out for reducing the cost of these investments as it is a solution with great potential, effective and, above all, low cost.

About Digital-water.city

ICRA is part of the European project Digital-water.city (DWC) which aims to promote the management of water systems in five major European cities - Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan, Paris and Sofia - taking advantage of the potential of data and digital technologies. The aim is to quantify and communicate the benefits of 15 innovative digital solutions compared to current European public service practices. These solutions cover the full range of innovative digital technologies, such as augmented reality, mobile technology, cloud computing, advanced sensors, real-time monitoring, artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, modelling and drone deployment.

About Oriol Gutiérrez

Oriol Gutiérrez is a researcher in the Technology and Evaluation Area of ​​ICRA, expert in the development of innovative solutions and the digitalisation of urban wastewater treatment systems. He holds a PhD in Industrial and Environmental Engineering from the University of Girona and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Queensland (Australia). He has led several research and knowledge transfer projects both nationally and internationally. He has also received several awards, both individually and collectively, highlighting the 2014 International Water Association’s award for the best applied-research project worldwide for the project “SCORe-Putting science into sewers”.

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