Nokeval and City of Tampere joined expertise for better stormwater measuring

The Smart Tampere agile experiments help companies to focus on essential issues in product development. Measuring technology specialist Nokeval tested continuous stormwater measuring with the City of Tampere. The experiment will be finished in March 2020.

In urban areas, stormwater is any water originating from rain and snow or ice melt and not soaking into the ground. Where the climate change increases precipitation and urbanisation stretches built-up areas, the amount of stormwater is on the rise.

Stormwater carries nutrients that cause eutrophication in lakes and all kinds of pollutants, like cigarette butts, rubbish, road salt and microplastics, says Salla Leppänen, Project Planner at the City of Tampere.

Continuous measuring helps allocate resources

Earlier it was customary to let stormwater run into lakes through storm drains and ditches. Now management systems are built in areas where they are needed, to both remove pollutants and delay stormwater to prevent flooding.

In new areas stormwater management systems are an integral part of city infrastructure, but there are still plenty of older areas without relevant equipment. Continuous stormwater measuring would be especially useful there by providing a deeper understanding on the quality and quantity of stormwater and the impact of precipitation.

Real-time stormwater monitoring would help us allocate our resources and build management systems where they are most effective, says Leppänen.

There are not yet limit values for stormwater quality in Finland, but they will probably be set, as has already been done in Sweden. Then reliable real-time measuring is needed to confirm that the criteria is met.

Actual information on City’s needs

Nokeval is a long-term measuring technology specialist, situated in the municipality of Nokia. The opportunity to join the Smart Tampere agile experiment arose just when the time was right. Nokeval, active in many fields, had already done a lot of research in environment measurements.

The agile experiment started as a general idea of cost-effectively digitalising processes. When the Nokeval and City of Tampere’s people discussed it, the experiment soon focused on more substantial matters. The City’s stormwater experts provided the company with facts: what does the City really need in this field.

The agile experiment focused on mechanics and selecting the right set of sensors. Data transmission was left in the background as there is always a solution available for that. For us, the result is a very well operating sensor pack that’s been developed and tested in real conditions, says Teemu Lehtonen, Sales Manager at Nokeval.

Interesting and scalable

The tested sensor pack measures water level, flow velocity, temperature, pH, conductivity and total dissolved solids. Tests were run in three different sites, all of them essential ones in the stormwater network of Tampere and monitored for a long time by taking individual samples.

– Vihioja, for example, is a ditch with a large catchment area and many quality issues, such as high nutrient contents, says Leppänen.

In the agile experiment data was transmitted to a cloud service and was available for the users via, for example, a mobile application. From the City’s point of view, the end result of the experiment was interesting and gives ideas for further development.

We hope that in the future there would be a continuous measurement option for total phosphorus and total nitrogen, because they are the most crucial factors in eutrophication, says Leppänen.

When the Smart Tampere agile experiment is finished, Nokeval will consider how to commercialise the sensor pack and what kind of business models would best support the product. In any case, Lehtonen says the stormwater measuring with wireless sensor packs is always a part of a bigger picture.

– When we talk about water resources management, both companies and public sector operating in this field, it’ll be big volumes in measuring, too. And the number one thing with wireless solutions is of course their easy scalability, says Lehtonen.


Photo: Nokeval

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