A new $1.66 million high-tech water monitoring project will use smart technologies to monitor the quality of water flowing through one of Cairns’ major urban catchments, in a bid to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
The Reducing Urban Impact on the Great Barrier Reef project includes installation of up to 30 water-monitoring sensors that will deliver real-time data on levels of nutrients, sediments and other contaminants that may be carried out to sea through the Saltwater Creek catchment.
The data collected will help plan and improve stormwater infrastructure and water treatment processes to ensure urban water run-off is not harming the reef or its marine life.
The Reducing Urban Impact on the Great Barrier Reef Project has received $827,894 funding under federal Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, with Cairns Regional Council, James Cook University (JCU), Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways, Itron Australasia and FNQ NRM Ltd providing the remainder.
Deputy Mayor of the Cairns Regional Council Terry James said the city was proud to lead the way in adopting new technologies for environmental benefit, especially since 2018 is the International Year of the Reef.
“To be a smart city is to be continually ready to accept new technologies as they emerge and apply them to the challenges we are facing,” Cr. James said.
“For Cairns, protection of our environment is our top priority and it makes sense that our city should be setting the benchmark in environmental management.
“We are the custodians of this very special ecosystem, which is recognised globally as a place of natural wonder. We have a responsibility to protect the reef for future generations.”
JCU’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Cocklin, said researchers from the University’s Internet of Things (IoT) program would bring both local knowledge and cutting-edge expertise to the project.
“JCU’s IoT engineers already use smart sensor networks to deliver real-time data from tropical field sites, enabling researchers to monitor marine and natural environments from anywhere in the world,” Professor Cocklin said.
“We see great potential for this technology to help make Cairns a truly smart city.”
All infrastructure for the project is expected to be placed within the next 12 months.