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In this paper, we design a new water environmental monitoring system based on wireless sensor networks which is suitable for the complex and large-scale water environment monitoring. This system consists of three parts: data monitoring nodes, data base station and remote monitoring center. Data monitoring nodes in the monitoring network are responsible for perceiving, acquiring, processing and transferring the water environment parameters. We research the low-power data monitoring node based on ZigBee wireless technology, and develop its hardware and software. Different water quality sensors can be installed on the node in order to meet the real-time monitoring for a wide range of water environment parameters including turbidity, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen and so on.