Development of a Conductivity Sensor for Monitoring Groundwater Resources to Optimize Water Management in Smart City Environments

Sensors (Basel). 2015 Aug 26;15(9):20990-1015. doi: 10.3390/s150920990.


The main aim of smart cities is to achieve the sustainable use of resources. In order to make the correct use of resources, an accurate monitoring and management is needed. In some places, like underground aquifers, access for monitoring can be difficult, therefore the use of sensors can be a good solution. Groundwater is very important as a water resource. Just in the USA, aquifers represent the water source for 50% of the population. However, aquifers are endangered due to the contamination. One of the most important parameters to monitor in groundwater is the salinity, as high salinity levels indicate groundwater salinization. In this paper, we present a specific sensor for monitoring groundwater salinization. The sensor is able to measure the electric conductivity of water, which is directly related to the water salinization. The sensor, which is composed of two copper coils, measures the magnetic field alterations due to the presence of electric charges in the water. Different salinities of the water generate different alterations. Our sensor has undergone several tests in order to obtain a conductivity sensor with enough accuracy. First, several prototypes are tested and are compared with the purpose of choosing the best combination of coils. After the best prototype was selected, it was calibrated using up to 30 different samples. Our conductivity sensor presents an operational range from 0.585 mS/cm to 73.8 mS/cm, which is wide enough to cover the typical range of water salinities. With this work, we have demonstrated that it is feasible to measure water conductivity using solenoid coils and that this is a low cost application for groundwater monitoring.

Keywords: Smart City; conductivity sensor; groundwater monitoring; saline intrusion; solenoid coils; water management.