Drought monitoring and watering advice: youngsters join the process

KWR and Brabant Water have launched in Eindhoven a Joint Research Programme project on drought monitoring, citizen science and opportunities for water conservation. Youngsters and customers of Brabant Water will themselves use a sensor to monitor drought in their own gardens during the summer months. They will then be sent watering advice for their garden.

The Drought Monitoring Exploratory Research project focuses on the drinking water utility’s customers, including youngsters. This summer they will be measuring soil moisture and, on this basis, receive watering advice. ‘What is special about this project is that the participants will themselves get to work on a sensor to measure the soil moisture,’ says Martin Korevaar of KWR. ‘In mid-May 2021, we organised a workshop in Eindhoven for a group of young people, in which they learned how to solder the sensor together. We also explained the project to them.’

Weather forecasts

The participants install the sensor boxes in the garden, and the sensor then takes periodic readings and sends the soil moisture data to the server. KWR analyses the self-monitoring data using a so-called ‘container model’. This provides the basis, together with the weather forecasts of the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute), for the watering advice sent by e-mail to the participants over the course of a summer.

Peak load

‘The goal of this approach to research is to work in an innovative manner on raising awareness among the water utility’s customers,’ says Martin Korevaar. ‘By building a sensor and carrying out the measurements themselves, the participants’ feeling of ownership and connection with the project is strengthened.’ For water utilities the project contributes to having more involved customers, who are more frugal with water, so that the peak load during dry summer months is flattened. The monitoring project runs from June through to October 2021.