HiSea water quality management services benefit Port of Valencia, and ports around the world

By Rafael Company and Mark Tanner

Through the services it will provide, the EU-funded HiSea project (High resolution Copernicus-Based Information Services at Sea for Ports and Aquaculture) aims to help significantly improve operations for both the port sector and the aquaculture industry.

The Port Authority of Valencia (PAV) is one of the 28 port authorities in Spain under the umbrella of the governmental body Puertos del Estado (State Ports).

Of Spain’s 46 ports of interest, the PAV represents the three found in the Valencia region: Sagunto, Gandía and Valencia itself. Out of these three ports, Valencia’s is the biggest, the most important and the one involved directly in the HiSea project, and therefore its role is to serve as a model for other ports, to demonstrate the potential benefits of HiSea’s services.

One of the major objectives of the PAV is to carry out daily port activities while respecting the environment and abiding by the regulations in force. As environmental regulations are continually becoming ever more stringent, water quality is one of the top environmental priorities of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO).

For many years the PAV has committed itself in all environmental aspects to be “as green as possible”. This requires constant hard work, as well as investment of time and financial resources in improving current working processes, machinery and technology, and the human resources needed to carry it all out.

HiSea information services focus on water quality aspects, and in the case of the Port of Valencia, the focus is on the aspects related to sheltered port waters. In the future, these services could also be applied to the same aspects at the other ports managed by the PAV.

Water quality management in the Port of Valencia is a continuous and tedious task that relies not only on manual work, but also on expensive tools for in-situ sampling. Few results are immediately available, as a major part of them requires the expertise of a laboratory for precise analysis, which is costly and time-consuming, delaying the delivery of results.

Sampling points are set in specific areas within the port and mainly require access by boat, resulting in a high-risk operation, as daily port operations are being carried out at the same time. The number of total sampling points is therefore limited, due to practical and safety reasons.

The services HiSea offers can benefit the port in a number of different ways, not only by reducing costs, which is an important factor, but by providing precise results of real-time data analysis. As data results are provided immediately, the delays related to laboratory processes are eliminated. The need for manual sampling is also eliminated, with all its handicaps, such as: boat access to sampling points, risks with daily port operations, reduced number of sample points.

In these ways, HiSea information services will allow for significantly improved precision, safety, data access and decision-making support.

An additional major important factor gained with HiSea’s services is the ability to anticipate and monitor unexpected pollutant events, such as spills, hydrocarbons and phytoplankton blooms in the water. This will allow the port to streamline the cleaning process and considerably reduce the contamination and its environmental impact.

Rafael Company is the EU Innovation Manager and Mark Tanner is a R&D Project Engineer at the Valenciaport Foundation.