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The Chemical Monitoring Station of the Future (21.04.2021)

200 participants from 15 countries followed the BfG's invitation and joined the international symposium "The Chemical Monitoring Station of the Future" taking place between 13 and 15 April 2021. The pure online setup enabled the participation in five keynote lectures and 15 presentations per click, regardless of location. Chemical monitoring infrastructure, mobile monitoring, data, processing and real-time analysis were on top of the agenda. The practitioner-oriented programme offered insights into state-of-the-art projects and combined the perspectives of industries, authorities and research institutions. Networking and exchange took place in several breakout session rooms.

For Lars Duester, host on behalf of the BfG and head of the BfG department G4, the chemical monitoring station of the future combines innovations from the various fields of expertise. The development process will gain momentum in the near future: when it comes to real-time evaluation of the chemical status; by inline, atline and online methods, with real-time analysis and fostered by increasing societal awareness for water quality and, last but not least, by citizen sciences. Therefore, timely data evaluation and provision incl. data verification must be intensively addressed in near future. The exchange of knowledge between industry, start-ups, science, research and the state actors is extremely important in the coming very exciting time span, in order to jointly develop innovative approaches and make them usable.

Werner Blohm, Institute for Hygiene and Environment, Hamburg, reported from his many years of experience from the future Water Quality Measuring Network in Hamburg. He identified that the strength of the measuring networks is the observation of the dynamics in the river systems. Among other things, it includes continuous measurement (short and long-term observation and evaluation) and the possibility of being able to document larger periods of time and automatic sampling (incl. passive samplers) as important tasks of the monitoring stations. In order to be able to perform the tasks in the measuring stations in the future, it would be very welcome if the cooperation between the measuring station operators would further develop a network for the exchange of experience. The goal should be a network of "automatic measuring stations”.

Christian Degel, Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, reflected the current systems and methods for the autonomous monitoring of inland waters. Here, we can profit a lot from experience in ocean monitoring, but system adaption is needed, especially for waterways, where space is rare and rights are complex.

Monika Wortberg, BASF SE, summarised the advantages and disadvantages of analytics 4.0 from an industry perspective. She considers automation and analytics 4.0 to be the enabler: With the same number of persons a multitude of analyses could be performed than would have been possible conventionally; simple routine tasks are automated; more complex tasks are performed instead by the people involved. This results in a strategic advantage.

Tobias Bader, Zweckverband Landeswasserversorgung, talked about his practical experiences concerning monitoring strategies and process control in the drinking water treatment by sensor and non-target data and emphasized the need for inter-lab processing of monitoring data. By such approaches, fast tracking of organic emissions becomes feasible and may help to protect the surface and drinking water quality.

Eric Compas, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, showed in his presentation “Testing the waters: Real-time mapping of water chemistry on the Rock River, Wisconsin, USA” how science can be supported by increasing societal awareness for water quality in terms of citizen sciences. The Rock River Coalition served as one example. Visualisation topics, process optimization and, of course, data quality, are the common challenges from his perspective.

In addition to the keynotes and dozens of other presentations, each of which provided much food for thought, the poster sessions promoted valuable exchange. The BfG was very pleased to welcome William Shotyk from the University of Alberta, Canada, as discussion participant. He contributed with his extensive knowledge and experience in the field of metal(loid) trace analyses and presented the poster "A dedicated "clean lab" sampling facility for studying the natural filtration of trace metals by soils: the artesian springs of the Elmvale Groundwater Observatory".

In summary, the symposium was an exceptional opportunity to exchange on our perception of fast developing field of activity driven by technical innovation of our society as whole and we became clearer about potential pathways and solutions. A symposium thrives above all on face-to-face exchange. Host Lars Duester summed up that, especially in view of the lack of face-to-face meetings, it is very important to seek exchange, to network, to stay in conversation and to use the technical progress, also fostered by the pandemic, wisely. The symposium, organized as a digital meeting place, was an important contribution and step forward in the right direction. He held out the prospect, that a new edition of the symposia could be planned in the course of a potential project continuation of MONDE at the BfG with a different focus.

The BfG would like to thank all presenters, moderators, and of course the great audience, which made the engaged exchange possible in the first place!

Contacts: Dr Julia Arndt and Dr Julia Kirchner

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