Santa Cruz teen creates sensor to test water quality amid climate change

Dustin Dorsey Image
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Santa Cruz teen creates sensor to test water amid climate change
Santa Cruz teen Jack Driscoll-Natale has created a sensor that can check the health of community's water.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Our oceans and waterways are facing threats from the effects of climate change.

The problem is, we can't easily check to see if the water's conditions are healthy for humans and the environment.

Well, that was until Santa Cruz's Jack Driscoll-Natale decided to take matters into his own hands.

"Being able to have more water health data will allow communities to be able to see the real effects of climate change in their local areas," Driscoll-Natale said. "So, I went to kind of fill that gap to be able to create a system that was durable enough to be able to be put in the field and efficient and accessible enough to bring that data to communities."

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Driscoll-Natale was doing a lab at Pacific Collegiate School when the senior could not find the water health data needed to complete the project.

So like most people would do, he went to the internet to learn how.

Driscoll-Natale taught himself electronics and computer programing to create a one-of-a-kind device.

"It basically takes in the pH, temperature and oxygen reduction potential of local waterways," Driscoll-Natale said. "Then using a Wi-Fi module, we're able to transmit that data wirelessly, directly to the cloud. So that means community members can view the health of their water from anywhere."

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Driscoll-Natale says that first-hand information exists for surfers when checking conditions of waves at given locations. With his creation, people can now check water health.

"We knew we had the sensors and the wireless capacity to be able to bring that information to communities, but all we had for water health was really high-end sensor systems used by used by a lot of really scientific and big corporations locally and internationally," Driscoll-Natale said. "And those can cost upwards of a hundred thousand dollars."

Driscoll-Natale is working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other groups to patent his technology in order to build upon it so it has greater coverage to benefit people worldwide.

"Not having access to that information was detrimental for not only us as humans in the water, but for the environment and all the animals living in it," Driscoll-Natale said. "And knowing that technology existed, I wanted to bring that to water health to not only sustain our community, but also sustain communities all over the world."

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