India’s Environmental Ministry recently set out to earn a Blue Flag accreditation for one beach in each of the country’s coastal states. To earn the Blue Flag, beaches must meet strict water quality and environmental standards. With Xylem’s water monitoring solution deployed at Shivrajpur Beach, India has now received the Blue Flag for this beach and seven others.
On the edge of the Arabian Sea in the Indian state of Gujarat, Shivrajpur Beach is an arc of white sand and turquoise waters just north of the ancient Hindu pilgrimage sites of Dwarka. Unlike many beaches in India, Shivrajpur is far from industrial sites and megacities, which helps keep the local environment clean.
The beach’s relatively rural location and excellent water quality has made Shivrajpur Beach a strong contender for the coveted title of Blue Flag Beach, a global eco-label that recognizes top-quality beaches, marinas and boating tourism operations.
Since 1985, the Blue Flag program recognizes beaches that meet a long list of criteria, from water quality and sustainable environmental management to extensive safety measures. Administered by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in Denmark, the Blue Flag program has recognized more than 4,000 sites in nearly 50 countries around the world. Communities prize the Blue Flag because it attracts tourists and reflects strong community support for the local maritime environment.
When India’s Environmental Ministry set out to earn a Blue Flag accreditation for one beach in each of the country’s coastal states, Gujarat officials focused their efforts on Shivrajpur Beach. The Gujarat Ecology Commission (GEC) established a Beach Management Committee in Dwarka and began the process of applying for the award.
One of the key requirements for accreditation is to establish water quality monitoring. With funds from the Indian government’s Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme, the commission worked with Xylem’s partner A&S Creations to select the best technologies for this application.
“The GEC scientists selected Xylem’s YSI brand EMM68 buoy because they were impressed with its performance,” says Rajiv Bhatia, Xylem Analytics Manager. “It is also lightweight enough for two technicians in a small boat to deploy and retrieve without divers, reducing installation and maintenance costs.”
Mounted to the buoy is a YSI EXO2 multiparameter water quality sonde. Through its six sensor ports, the EXO2 continually measures every 15 minutes: temperature, conductivity, salinity, turbidity and total dissolved solids, dissolved oxygen, pH, oxidative-reductive potential, chlorophyll, fluorescent dissolved organic matter and phycoerythrin – a pigment of blue-green algae. The sonde’s seventh port houses a central anti-fouling wiper, which helps ensure accuracy and lengthen the interval between maintenance visits.
“The EMM68 coastal buoy and EXO2 sonde are ideal for a deployment like Shivrajpur Beach, where durability, reliability and versatility are so important,” says Dr. Stephanie A. Smith, YSI’s Product Segment Manager for Outdoor Water Quality. “The Gujarat Environmental Commission now has a steady, massive flow of continuous water quality data that will not only provide the quality and level of detail required to participate in the Blue Flag program, but that could also someday provide great insight into water quality in one of western India’s most beautiful coastal communities.”
In October 2020, India’s plan to certify Blue Flag beaches was met with unprecedented success – eight of its beaches were awarded Blue Flag status, including Shivrajpur Beach.
“Proud moment for India; all 8 beaches recommended by government gets coveted International #Blueflag Certification,” wrote India’s Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar on Twitter.
“The #Blueflag certification accorded to India’s 8 beaches by an international jury,” he continued, “is also a global recognition of India’s conservation and sustainable development efforts.”
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