Drain Detectives: Citizen science and sensors to protect bay beaches
Pollution from stormwater drains can impact the water quality of our beaches. The Drain Detectives project, led by Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria, will monitor beaches in Sandringham, Mentone, Mordialloc, Dromana and Rye from 2018-2020. Combined with water quality sensors, the public information will help us better understand and manage pollution from drains.
The Drain Detective youth program is the first of its kind for Port Phillip Bay and is a 4-session STEAM project for secondary- aged students to be hands-on with measuring the health of Port Phillip Bay. (STEAM means blending Science Tech Engineering Arts and Maths curriculum.)
The pilot project involved students from Cheltenham Secondary College, Kildbreda College and Brighton Venturers to work side by side with scientists from the EPA, Port Phillip EcoCentre and Monash University. Participants were involved in:
- Building the storm water drain sensors and developing the code using Arduino software
- Researching the location of local drains, types of land use and making recommendations where the sensors are to be placed
- Conducting a range of EPA water qualities experiments at their local beach
- Reviewing data from the sensors and making recommendations for future actions
The school and Scouts program is a component of the broader project that involves four local councils and community members.
The overall objectives of the 3 year project are to:
- Improve knowledge of dry weather pathogen pollution from storm water drain flowing into the bay
- Focus on ten beaches with drains nearby and pathogen levels not always suitable for swimming during dry weather
- Trial an innovative community, citizen scientist and simple sensors approach that monitors and tracks pathogen pollution
The outcomes are to:
- Improve reporting of pollution
- Have citizen science and sensors toolkit available on EPA website
- Improve water quality for swimming at ten beaches
Anyone can become a Drain Detective by collecting observations on your visits to Sandringham, Mentone, Mordialloc, Dromana and Rye. Find full details from our partners at EPA Victoria.
The Drain Detectives project is funded through the Port Phillip Bay Fund and this project acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.