The water quality-sensing IoT created by the EPA recently detected 23 enterprises that illegally discharged wastewater, leading to the issuance of NT$20 million in fines. The water quality sensors, jointly deployed by the EPA, the Irrigation Agency (IA) and 13 local environmental bureaus can pinpoint pollution hotspots and popular discharge hours by using data detected every minute and analysis of AI big data. All of the above have helped raise inspection efficiency.
The EPA reported that it collaborated with the IA to install water quality sensors in irrigation ditches in Gangshan, Kaohsiung. Having determined potential pollution hotspots and popular discharge hours, inspectors were able to crack down on electroplating factories that illegally rerouted discharges within a month after the deployment of sensors. A fine of NT$9.935 million was issued, and the authorities also tracked down illegal gains worth of NT$2.85 million. Now the water quality sensing IoT has grown more mature, with sensors deployed in over 50 watersheds and 15 industrial zones across Taiwan via the EPA's continual advancement of sensing technology and onsite trials conducted by local governments. For such achievements, environmental bureaus of Taoyuan City, Taichung City, Tainan City, and Yunlin County were invited to share their applications and experiences in utilizing these sensors in a press conference.
Taoyuan Environmental Bureau discovered that lye tanks and storage wells of factories in industrial zones were broken and resulted in wastewater overflowing into rainwater ditches. Thanks to early detection, disaster was averted. Factories were fined NT$365,000 and ordered to make improvement within two weeks. Taichung Environmental Bureau staked out highly potential pollution hotspots and discovered illegal discharges from factories at certain hours. Water quality tests showed a pH of 11.9 and suspended solids exceeding the limit by 24.7 times, leading to a fine of NT$1.482 million. For Yunlin Environmental Bureau, water quality sensor data were analyzed and used to crack down on factories in industrial zones that rerouted wastewater discharge into rainwater discharge outlets. Finally, Tainan Environmental Bureau fully utilized sensor data to pinpoint suspected pollution areas and discovered a leather factory that rerouted its discharge as well as discharge from a waste disposal plant exceeding the standards by five times. Each was fined NT$1.9 million and NT$430,000, respectively.
The EPA stressed that the water quality sensing IoT combines local governments' installation capacity via connection and coordination among different central authorities. Limits of conventional monitoring by manpower are overcome as warnings in real-time can be issued through automatic water quality sensors thus greatly enhancing the effects of smart environmental management. In the future, the EPA will keep pushing for smart sensing and AI management in water supply plants and wastewater treatment plants to increase values across different industries through collaboration between the public and private sectors. The goal is to use technology to enhance environmental quality by integrating water quality sensing IoT in every aspect of life.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, December 2021
- Ministry of Environment