As the global nature intelligence technology company, Surrey Research Park company NatureMetrics has launched their World-First ‘PollutionTracker’ – a monthly subscription service for the water industry, combining unique DNA sampling with state-of-the-art data science, to deliver mapping of bacterial pollution across whole river catchments.
The new product, available to new and existing customers from today, will enable companies to track the percentage of bacteria in rivers which are associated with their sewage and water treatments, providing a better picture of the entire bacterial communities. This includes potential human pathogens at different parts of the catchment for an understanding of whole river health.
This innovative method allows organisations to track pollution more cost effectively and comprehensively than any other traditional microbiological approach on the market, opening an opportunity to responsibly manage the impacts on UK waterways.
“The issue of water pollution in our rivers is high on the public agenda. Several forward-thinking water companies asked us if our technology could be applied to monitoring and mapping pollution, so we’ve responded to that appetite. Our new PollutionTracker is a game-changer, putting vital data in the hands of water companies, enabling them to make critical decisions to support the health of our rivers”, said Dr Lewis Campbell, Product Developer for Microbiomes at NatureMetrics.
PollutionTracker key features include:
- Early warning system for increases in bacterial groups of potential concern
- Ease of sample collection making for affordable data capture
- Comprehensive data on microbiome versus traditional monitoring approaches
- Reference data collected specific to site enables more detailed insight into the contribution of wastewater pollution to the bacterial burden of waterways
NatureMetrics’ pilot studies have successfully demonstrated the contribution of sewage to bacterial pollution and these results correlate well with different ages and sophistication of waste-water infrastructure in the catchments surveyed. This data is paramount to help water companies focus their environmental management and reduce their impacts on waterways.
Campbell continues: “Before PollutionTracker, the method that has traditionally been used to monitor pollution is based on counting the number of very specific bacteria that grow when a water sample is spread on an agar plate. This type of monitoring does not account for the vast majority of bacterial diversity in a waterbody that are not cultured, including numerous bacteria of human health concern. These traditional approaches underestimate the pollution burden on a river”.
NatureMetrics expects that this new low-cost, high-tech biological monitoring service will lead to regulators and other standard setters, such as the Taskforce for Nature Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) mandating better monitoring, creating a level playing field for their customers.
Katie Critchlow, CEO of NatureMetrics, adds: “This week as the UK government threatened to water down nature regulations, NatureMetrics wants to send a clear message that it is better to look to technology to reduce the cost and increase the benefits of regulatory compliance rather than ditching regulatory compliance altogether.
“We’re already cutting the cost and increasing the speed of regulatory compliance. We hope to work with UK environmental regulators to ensure they are making best use of the new technology available as part of the biotech revolution, to boost the UK economy and to protect our natural capital”.
For customers looking for deeper insights, NatureMetrics will also be offering an extended biodiversity monitoring service, enabling clients to build a full map of biodiversity, including fish and mammals, in the area. This service can be added to the monthly PollutionTracker subscription, to enhance understanding of the impact on the natural environment, enabling more comprehensive reporting to stakeholders.