Water Quality Sensor and Camera Instrumentation at the Tijuana Estuary

By Trent Biggs, Professor of Geography, San Diego State University

March 23, 2021

Impaired water quality threatens human health and ecosystems, especially in the Tijuana Estuary and Imperial Beach. Contamination events, including from sewer system overflows and malfunctions, can be difficult to predict, and yet there are few real-time water quality monitoring stations in the San Diego-Tijuana Border region.

American White Pelicans at the Tijuana Estuary

We are developing systems to monitor water quality in real-time using telemetry and advanced water quality monitoring systems. The monitoring system includes standard water quality parameters (pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, temperature) but also colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and tryptophan, which correlates with bacteria concentrations in other water bodies. We hope to develop an early warning system of contamination events to allow rapid management response and health advisories.

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Back view of the monitoring station

Water quality monitoring station with camera at the Tijuana River, front view