Pier Based Water Testing in Real Time

Last week several of the Spyglass team visited a pier-based deployment of an Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) system configured to monitor Enterococcus, an indicator of fecal contamination, and toxic algae in beach water. This joint research project conducted by MBARI and Stanford University is analyzing recreational ocean waters along the shoreline of Northern California. The ESP is installed on a deck below the municipal pier. This unit has a module installed that can conduct quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) tests on water samples. A protective housing protects the ESP electronics from salt air, high surf conditions, and visiting wildlife. The housing used by MBARI is the same one used for ocean deployment. (A lighter housing for strictly pier-based deployments is in development.) Although connected to onshore power, a battery backup ensures uninterrupted operation. Sample water is collected approximately 200 meters from shore and 2 meters from the sea floor. Collection and analysis occurs daily. Based on environmental conditions, the scientists at Stanford or MBARI can increase or decrease the sampling frequency. Test results are transmitted wirelessly to an onshore station. Preliminary data indicate that assays developed for recreational water analysis are effective. Spyglass is looking forward to the published results. For more information on this study, see: