Submersible sensors rapidly detect bacterial pollution in water

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

When it rains in San Diego, waterways such as the San Diego River and its Alvarado Creek tributary often experience bacterial pollution that is ultimately carried to the ocean. This is a public health threat for swimmers, surfers and aquatic life, and it can stem from sewer line breaks during storms, illegal discharging of wastewater into rivers, or leaky septic tanks.

Typically, coastal cities that experience frequent contamination will collect water samples and test the quality if they suspect bacterial contamination, before issuing warnings to the public and closing access to beaches. But this reactionary method involves wait times of to 18 to 24 hours, a potentially hazardous delay for the public.
Environmental engineers from San Diego State University have adapted existing sensor technology that can detect fluorescence and tweaked it to…

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