AMEWS (Aquatic Microbial Early Warning System)

18 Oct. 2011  

Aim of the project

This project aims to establish an early warning system for imminent threat to human health and water quality by microbial contamination. Microbial and phytoplankton communities’ composition analysis is used to identify sentinel organisms whose numerical dominance is predictive of toxic outbreaks and blooms of phytoplankton. Molecular probes developed for the sentinel organisms will be used with the analytical device Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) that enable a near real-time enumeration of key organisms, thereby offering a significant improvement to current monitoring procedures.

Approach of the project

A genomic-based approach is used to elucidate the aquatic microbial composition in combination with a detailed survey of physico-chemical and biological parameters and ecosystem modelling for environmental water systems. Specifically, this will be applied to improve the monitoring of drinking water and safety of recreational waters, such as beaches or freshwater reservoirs, and to reduce the threat of pathogens in aquaculture activities. The early warning system gives the decision-makers the possibility of managing the threat before it takes effect.
While the technologies are being specifically developed for Singapore, this can be applied to systems on other locations such as drinking water in reservoirs, whose safety can be affected by red tides algae and whose function threatened by the physical clogging by these algae.
In the project, two water types of Singapore, which are in direct contact with humans activities and needs, were chosen as study cases: a) Pandan Reservoir (Freshwater) and b) West Johor Strait, Raffles Marina (Seawater).

Importance of the project

Water resources are increasingly threatened in Singapore; everyone must take part in protecting them. Drinking water is of the utmost importance for human existence. Therefore, development and implementation of a system to give early warning of a threatening contamination of a reservoir by a microbial bloom is of great importance.
In Singapore, aquaculture represents both a large economic resource and an important protein source for the population. Therefore, being able to predict a threat to the animals by a threatening pathogen is very important

Client: Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI)

Pandan Reservoir

Raffles Marina

Phytoplankton (Pandan Reservoir)

Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)