Turbidity is one of the primary metrics to determine water quality in terms of health and environmental concerns, however analysis typically takes place in centralized facilities, with samples periodically collected and transported there. Large scale autonomous deployments (WSNs) are impeded by both initial and per measurement costs. In this study we employ a Paired Emitter-Detector Diode (PEDD) technique to quantitatively measure turbidity using analytical grade calibration standards. Our PEDD approach compares favorably against more conventional photodiode-LED arrangements in terms of spectral sensitivity, cost, power use, sensitivity, limit of detection, and physical arrangement as per the ISO 7027 turbidity sensing standard. The findings show that the PEDD technique was superior in all aforementioned aspects. It is therefore more ideal for low-cost, low-power, IoT deployed sensors. The significance of these findings can lead to environmental deployments that greatly lower the device and per-measurement costs.