GA: 731778
Duration: 01/11/2016 – 31/10/2019
Overall budget: EUR 4,133,301.25
EU contribution: EUR 3,049,206.74
Project partners: CyRIC – Cyprus Research and Innovation Centre (Cyprus), National Research Council (Italy), Alpes Lasers SA (Switzerland), National Technical University of Athens (Greece), Technische Universität Wien (TUW), Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg (Germany), AUG Signals Hellas (Greece), VIGO System S.A. (Poland), IREN SpA (Italy)

Project assumptions:

WaterSpy develops a device for pervasive and on-line monitoring of tap water. For many contaminants, which will lead to human health hazards, good measurement devices are available. For bacterial contamination the situation gets worse. Especially, E. coli, Salmonella and P. aeruginosa are the most dangerous for human health. WaterSpy focuses on these three strains of bacteria and develops an additional device for currently available quality monitoring platforms. The device will be able to perform automated and fast quality analysis for bacterial contaminants in water.

Challenges of the project are to meet the legal requirements for the concentration of contaminants, given in the EU directives on water quality. Due to the very low acceptable concentration of contaminants, the sensitivity of the device has to be very high to catch up with current laboratory analysis.

Key strategic Objectives:

  • Development of a compact photonics technology, capable of identification of heterotrophic bacterial cells in the water. Specificity and sensitivity levels will meet regulatory requirements,
  • Validation of the profitability and suitability of technology for a large coverage area.


The purpose of the WaterSpy team is to develop a device that will require about 30-45 minutes for a full sample analysis of 250 mL. This is in line with the EC and national regulations that require that no bacteria should be present in a sample of 250mL of drinking water. 30-45 minutes will allow to perform 32-48 tests per day in the same site. With currently used systems, the same analysis could take up to 3 days.

Pervasive and on-line water quality monitoring data is essential for detecting environmental pollution and reacting in the best possible way to avoid human health hazards. However, it’s not easy to gather such data, at least not for all contaminants.

Currently, water utilities rely heavily on frequent sampling and laboratory analysis in order to obtain the information. For the situation to be improved, portable and high-performance devices for pervasive water quality monitoring are required. Such devices should expand current limitations in detecting contaminants, transcending today’s paradigms, and bridging available different technologies, allowing on-line monitoring of possible contaminants.

WaterSpy addresses this challenge by developing photonics technology for water quality analysis suitable for inline, field measurements. WaterSpy technology will be integrated, for validation purposes, to a commercially successful water quality monitoring platform, in the form of a portable device add-on. WaterSpy will be used in the field for the analysis of critical points of water distribution networks. This will be demonstrated in two different demo sites in Italy.

Why WaterSpy:

By providing the capability to detect biological agents in the Water network, WaterSpy will effectively contribute directly to increased health and safety of European citizens.

Waterborne infectious diseases not only cause illness and death that can be prevented, but may also have substantial economic effects on the affected people and their families and the society as a whole, including expenses for healthcare and loss of productivity. It has also been proven that adverse health outcomes are associated with ingestion of unsafe water, lack of water access (linked to poor hygiene), lack of access to sanitation, contact with unsafe water, and inadequate management of water resources and systems. Pathogenic microorganisms remain the most important hazard in drinking and recreational water in the European region and digestive track diseases are still an important cause of child morbidity and mortality in some countries. Viruses (rotavirus, calcivirus, and hepatitis A virus) are responsible for 70- 80% of contagious diarrhea cases in the developed world, according to the referenced WHO study. Some of the biological agents used in terrorism cause similar health disorders to the ones mentioned above and other can even cause other more dangerous health hazards.

VIGO System’s participation:

VIGO System is responsible for development of the optimized detector and designing dedicated electronics for fast, low noise amplification of detector signals. The detector will be integrated with electronics into the detection module.

Project partners include:

CyRIC -Cyprus Research and Innovation Centre (Cyprus),

National Research Council (Italy),

Alpes Lasers SA (Switzerland),

National Technical University of Athens (Greece),

Technische Universität Wien (TUW),

Friedrich-Alexander-Universitaet Erlangen-Nuernberg (Germany),

AUG Signals Hellas (Greece),

VIGO Systems SA (Poland)

IREN SpA (Italy)

More information: