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Remote groundwater monitoring


Fluctuations in groundwater levels are a determining factor for the sustainability of habitats. Therefore the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) has set up the WATINA network, a monitoring network of over 9000 groundwater wells in Natura 2000 areas in Flanders. However, this assignment is hampered by factors such as accessibility of the terrain and manpower. The INBO already experimented with devices that monitor the groundwater levels and log them in an internal memory, but hardware failures or external factors such as vandalism can result in loss of months of data.


Therefore, in the framework of LifeWatch, the INBO is now extending its monitoring techniques by using devices that can expose the groundwater levels real-time without the need for any manual intervention and thereby reducing the risk of data loss when severe issues occur. The GPRS loggers use an internal modem and a SIM card to send the data over the mobile network and they are employed in inaccessible areas with specific issues such as military domains or flood plains.

In 2016, 20 new groundwater loggers were deployed in the field: 7 in the military domains of Groot Schietveld, Klein Schietveld and the valley of the Zwarte Beek; 7 in the flood plains of the Assebroekse meersen, Bourgoyen, Dijle valley, Scheps, Hoeleden, and Westbroek-Yser valley; and 5 in hard to reach areas at De Liereman, De Teut, Hageven, Vijverbroek and Ziepbeek valley.

Together with the 15 GPRS loggers deployed in 2014-2015, the total number of deployed groundwater loggers with a GPRS modem is now 35, distributed across Flanders.


Left: Location of the 35 deployed groundwater loggers with GPRS functionality. Loggers deployed on military domains are indicated in orange, loggers deployed on areas that may be flooded in purple (©INBO) - Right: Groundwater well in the WATINA monitoring network (©INBO)


Data flow

Instead of developing a custom web service for the WATINA data, INBO is collaborating with Dienst Ondergrond Vlaanderen (DOV)  to make the WATINA groundwater level data available using this web platform and services. As such, the scope of the data publication is much larger and the integration with the other data providers enables users to query and retrieve data from the different partners at the same time, leading to an improved user experience and increased efficiency. Currently, an Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) procedure is being developed to add the data from the GPRS loggers to WATINA.

Also in this framework, an open source Python package (pydov) has been developed, which provides a Python interface to search and download time series data of groundwater data (both groundwater levels, as well as chemical measurements.