Researchers collect critical water quality data on Africa’s Okavango Delta

The Wild Bird Trust, in partnership with National Geographic, launched a years-long project to explore the rivers of the Okavango Delta in Southern Africa and collect baseline data on virtually every aspect of the environment in this remote region. The open-access data will be used to assess the health of the river basin over time and prompt action to protect an area that is the primary water source for a million people and one of the most biodiverse regions in Africa.

At every 10km, the Aqua TROLL is used to collect data on DO, pH, ORP, temperature and nitrate (Photo credit: Wild Bird Trust).

Back from a two-month expedition in the wilds of the Okavango Delta, in Southwest Africa, Rainer von Brandis, researcher director, and Gotz Neef, researcher director and collections manager of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) team, recalled the challenges of data collection in one of the most remote and biodiverse regions on the continent.

Their latest journey along the Okavango River, from Namibia’s northern border with Angola to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, was the latest in a series of trips to explore all the major rivers that sustain the delta and collect data on virtually every aspect of the environment, including water quality, water discharge, biodiversity and climate.

Since 2015, a small team of researchers and regional experts have made more than a dozen river trips, paddling thousands of kilometres in dugout canoes called mekoros and collecting data critical to understanding environmental change in the region. Specific to water quality data collection, the team required instrumentation designed for spot checking along the route and for continuous water monitoring at several permanent stations.

On the river trips, Neef utilised the Aqua TROLL 600 for spot checking. Every 10km, he collected data on dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), temperature and nitrate, with a separate device used to measure turbidity.

During the trips, Neef would carry two Aqua TROLLs, in case he needs a spare. “Space is limited on the boat, so it’s helpful that they’re compact, and you can measure multiple parameters with one device,” he said. “The Aqua TROLL is easy to use, robust and completely submersible.”

The full article is available in the latest edition of Water & Wastewater Asia May/Jun 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.