Cooperation for the development of water monitoring continues with the Colombians

News 2022-10-19 at 10:51
IDEAM's experts get to know the operation of organic chemistry at SYKE's laboratory centre and the GC-MS/MS device. © Riitta Koivikko

In June 2022, the Hydrological Institute of Colombia received its first continuous water quality monitoring station. In September 2022, the institute's experts visited Finland on a study trip and, in addition to the laboratory, got to know the wastewater treatment plant and water sampling.

In the COFI Water project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a continuous water quality monitoring device was installed in June in the pilot area of ​​the project in the southern part of Colombia, in the upper reaches of the Magdalena River.

The monitoring device has been handed over to the Colombian hydrological institute IDEAM (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies). The device (Hydrolab HL7) measures temperature, turbidity, electrical conductivity, oxygen content, pH and total dissolved solids.

The device is located at IDEAM's hydrological monitoring station, so data on water level, flow and precipitation are also available to researchers. SYKE experts train Colombian colleagues in device maintenance and data interpretation. The device works well.

The COFI Water project was previously reported in Vesikirje in March 2022. 

Colombians on a study trip in Helsinki

IDEAM's experts were on a study tour in Finland from 19 to 23 September 2022 as guests of SYKE. They were introduced to the functions of SYKE's laboratory and water centre, such as water quality monitoring, information systems and reporting.

Colombia's border neighbours are Venezuela to the east, Brazil to the southeast, Peru and Ecuador to the south, and Panama to the northwest, with which it shares river basins. For this reason, the UNECE Water Convention boundary water agreement and related activities were also discussed.

The tour organized in the premises of SYKE's laboratory centre with demonstrations of sample pre-treatment and equipment maintenance was of great interest to IDEAM's experts. In addition, the study visitors received information about the laboratory's information and document management systems, as well as a demonstration of the use of drones and continuous measuring devices in measuring water quality and quantity.

The guests also got to see the Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant. Colombia still has a lot of work to do in the development of wastewater treatment.

On a guided tour of the Viikinmäki wastewater treatment plant. © Riitta Koivikko

At Pitkäkoski in Vantaanjoki, the study tourers got to test water sampling with the Limnos sampler. At the same time, they also visited SYKE's continuous water quality measuring device and cleaned the device's sensor. A passive collector that collects harmful substances from the water was also installed in the rapids, and diatom algal samples were taken from the stones of the rapids.

Diatoms sampling from the surfaces of stones in Pitkäkoski. © Sari Mitikka

The Finnish Water Forum presented its activities to the Colombian guests, and it sparked a lively discussion. Finally, the study tour participants and SYKE representatives went to introduce themselves and tell the highlights of the project at the Colombian embassy in Helsinki.

Water sampling experiment with the Limnos sampler in Pitkäkoski. © Sari Mitikka

During the study trip, there was lively discussion and at the same time the project's further plans became clear. One goal of the project is to guide IDEAM's experts in training water quality monitoring for other entities in Colombia. The goal seems to have been realized very well.

"We learned about the culture of taking care of Finnish waters and we want to pass that culture on to our partners, other actors, universities and citizens", praise the Colombian researchers.

Author: Special researcher Sari Mitikka, Finnish Environmental Centre SYKE, firstname.surname@syke.fi

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