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The Rapidly Changing Field of Beach Water Quality Monitoring Stephen B. Weisberg Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority Blue Tech.

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Presentation on theme: "The Rapidly Changing Field of Beach Water Quality Monitoring Stephen B. Weisberg Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority Blue Tech."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Rapidly Changing Field of Beach Water Quality Monitoring Stephen B. Weisberg Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Authority Blue Tech & Blue Economy Summit November 7, 2013

2 ITS AN EXCITING TIME TO BE A BIOLOGIST Molecular biology is mushrooming – We only first discovered the structure of DNA in 1953 – Sequencing is now something routinely done by graduate students Use of DNA-based measurement tools has revolutionized many fields – Medical – Homeland security – CSI and all its offshoots Just beginning to affect the environmental field – Faster, better, cheaper – Opportunities abound

3 Beachgoers feel protected Reality The Problem Results in hrs The Solution Results in 2 hrs BEACH WATER MONITORING

4 ITS NOT JUST ABOUT SPEED Accuracy – Culture based methods are non-specific – This leads to false positives Host Specificity – We currently target indicators that grow well in culture – Other less-cultivable organisms are more specific to the human intestinal tract – Opportunity to measure the taxa most appropriate to the problem

5 CHALLENGES IN TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION They are not technical – Dont let the perfect be the enemy of the good – The need was there Its not technology transfer – We had to simplify a few steps, but they got it quickly – Had the practitioners part of the process early on We encountered three main problems – Sampling challenges – Creating a support infrastructure – Hidden costs

6 TIMING WAS THE BIGGEST ISSUE Sampling typically begins at 7AM and lasts three hours Sample processing takes almost two hours – If everything is ready to go when samples arrive Calculations and data verification adds an hour One more hour to notify the health department and for them to act on it – An additional hour for people to go place out the signs Its now 3:00 and the swimmers are coming out of the water – Signs need to be up by noon to make this worthwhile

7 SUPPORT INFRASTRUCTURE Who does the training? – Right now it is us – We are a research entity Who certifies that your lab is performing adequately? – Right now it is us – We are a research entity Where do you buy your standards? – Right now, we are supplying them to the local labs – We are a research entity

8 HIDDEN COSTS Start up cost is not the impediment – Capital expenses are easier to justify than per unit cost Per unit cost is not an impediment – Will likely be comparable once suppliers create big lots First impediment is the confidence building cost – Health departments want an extended period using both methods Biggest impediment will be the push for more monitoring – A rapid method doesnt help if you only do it one day a week – Labs are struggling just to maintain existing programs

9 WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Now that there is no culturing step, we can automate the process We have already developed a pier mounted prototype – Telemetered to the web - check conditions before you leave home – It will be deployed in San Diego (Ocean Beach pier) for three months in January The logical extension is a mooring mounted application – We have that in prototype as well

10 HOW ABOUT AFTER THAT? Our next challenge is the suitcase model – Something that is so simple, a lifeguard can pour the water in and the answer spits out an hour later – Will solve the sample transport time Addresses another need: Field portability allows us to track down spills – Its not just about the warnings, its also about fixing the problem We will have that working in three years! – The biggest technical challenge is how to address field calibration – We think we have a solution

11 Human health monitoring – Seafood safety – Harmful algal blooms Environmental quality assessment – Genetic barcoding to assess presence of natural biological communities – Microarrays to measure sublethal effects Species management – Detection of invasive species in ballast water – Endangered species monitoring in foods, such as fish roe and fillets WHAT ARE THE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES?

12 Molecular opportunities abound The only things lacking are investment and industry participation Its economics of payback at this point, not technical limitations THE FUTURE IS NOW

13 PRESENT APPROACH TO MONITORING FOR HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS Ship-based water collection Manually count species Place sample on a slide Labor-intensive Results can take weeks

14 MOLECULAR APPROACH FOR DETECTION OF HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS Moored Pumping Array Automated assimilation into nowcast models In-Situ Microarray Detection Continuous data available on the web Real Time Telemetry of Data to Shore


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