Water quality research

3 August 2017

Exercise is becoming increasingly important and swimming is one of the best ways to improve your physical fitness and your technique. The inner harbour of Marineterrein Amsterdam seems to be the perfect place for a swim, but is the water clean enough? Research will determine whether swimming is an option here.

Swim at your own risk

Those who choose to go for a dip now do so at their own risk, as the water isn’t always suitable for swimming. Preliminary research has shown that bacteria concentrations in the water can be far too high at times, especially in hot weather and after heavy rainfall. At the moment, it takes several days to measure these concentrations. However, is it possible to take these measurements more quickly or to determine the source of the contamination more accurately?

New measurement methods

A standard measurement using cultured water samples takes a few days to complete. While this is a great method, it’s also a little impractical. For this reason, innovative measurement methods are currently being investigated that may be much faster. During the summer, additional measurements will be carried out alongside these standard measurement techniques. These are:

  1. Conducting automated measurements of on-site water samples using biotrack – an advanced method that allows you to carry out fast and frequent water quality tests
  2. Measuring the electrical conductivity of the water at three locations by Waternet. This involves measuring water flow in order to determine the source of the pollution retrospectively during peak pollution times
  3. Taking and investigating manual water samples at several locations following heavy rainfall to improve the retrospective calculations

Early warning system

The purpose of this research is two-fold. Firstly, we want to determine whether the standard and the new measurement methods generate the same results. If so, it may be possible to notify swimmers in advance using an early warning system. An even better solution would be to detect and address the source of the pollution. After all, prevention is better than a warning.

We will continue to take bi-weekly water samples, which means the new technique will be carried out alongside the existing one.

This research is made possible by:

  • The Municipality of Amsterdam
  • Marineterrein Amsterdam
  • Deltares
  • Waternet
  • Bioscope