A new project could provide a faster and more efficient means of testing bathing water quality around the South West and alerting authorities to potential health hazards.

The new initiative is being developed by Molendotech Ltd, a spinout company of the University of Plymouth that works out of two university-managed facilities: the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro, and the Brixham Laboratory in Devon.

The project will make use of Bacterisk, a portable rapid test to monitor and detect water-borne pathogens, delivering an accurate assessment of water quality in 15 minutes (current methods take longer than 48 hours).

Samples could be collected from seabed to surface half-hourly, with the results communicated automatically to those responsible for identifying and managing public health issues.

This would significantly reduce carbon emissions in comparison with using a boat or manual sampling regime.

There are 150 bathing water sites in Devon and Cornwall. Dr Keiron Fraser, associate professor in marine conservation at the University of Plymouth, said: “The product we plan to develop will potentially allow real-time monitoring of bathing waters for water users, rather than the current weekly measurements, therefore, providing faster detection of potential health hazards and improved safety for water users.”