Water Quality Telemetry Project on Fourmile and Tenmile Creeks
NOTICE: The electrical storm of Thursday, December
22, affected some of the electronic components of our system.
1) Some of the circuitry of the 10mile Creek water quality probe
was destroyed and is being repaired by the manufacturer in Texas.
It will be reinstalled during the first week of January.
2) The small computer which collects the data from both probes is
needed repairs, and will soon be online again.
purpose of this project is to:
water quality data in 4mile and 10mile Creeks;
an efficient method of collecting water quality data on a real-time,
how to place this information on the Internet so people can learn
about their creeks.
water quality information is important because these creeks were
recently maintained by the landowners, and
this monitoring will document positive effects
of the plantings along the creeks and the other measures.
following characteristics of the water in the two creeks are being
measured once an hour:
Funders and partners
This project is sponsored by the Whatcom County Stormwater Division
in the Whatcom County Public Works Department. It is scheduled
to last until April of 2006.
Two entities of Washington State University are working on the project:
WSU Whatcom Extension in Bellingham, and the WSU Center for Precision
Agriculture in Prosser.
John and Dorie
Belisle of Bellewood Acres orchards have donated space on their
property so that this project could proceed. In addition, other
landowners have allowed us to put equipment on their land. We thank
them very much.
How the project works:
A probe in each of the two streams collects
data about the water characteristics listed above. The two probes
send this data by radio to an antenna at a barn at Bellewood Acres
where a router sends the raw data via the Internet to the WSU Center
for Precision Agriculture in Prosser. Eventually, that data will
be processed for easier reading and then placed on a web page located
on the WSU Whatcom Extension website.
We are still
working on that technology (as of mid-December 2005) and so we
currently have manually posted data until the real-time
website is finalized.
about the water characteristics being measured:
The probes have been placed in the main part of the two streams where
most of the water flows; this area is called the "thalweg". They
are protected from impact of floating debris and are anchored into
detached during high water flows.
The following characteristics of the water are being measured: temperature,
dissolved oxygen, pH, conductance, turbidity, and water level.
like us, the aquatic life which live in streams do not like temperatures
outside their accustomed range – whether
too hot or too cold. Temperature also has indirect effects, such
as when insects fail to reproduce if the water becomes too warm.
oxygen levels in the water are measured in two ways:
- by measuring
the absolute concentration (the usual measures are
in parts of oxygen per million parts of water million
(abbreviated as “ppm”) or as milligrams per liter.
Conveniently, these two measures are equal and the same numbers
other measure of oxygen in water is “percent saturation”,
which tells you how much oxygen is actually in the
water versus how much oxygen could potentially be in that water
at that temperature.
Turbidity: This measures how cloudy the water is from small
solid particles, such as sediment.
Conductivity: Conductivity can tell us where the
water in a stream came from. It is a measure of the electrically-charged
particles in water. For example, there is greater conductivity
in water which has traveled underground for a distance
than in water
that has just fallen as rain. There is no standard or
expectation for conductivity levels.
pH: The pH of water is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the sample
water is. The range of pH is 1 to 14, and
neutral is 7. Water
is typically a little greater than 7, except when a pollution
event has occurred and if that happens, the water can
get either more acid
level: This tells us how deep the water is. A pressure sensor inside
the probe measures the depth of the probe,
and we can calculate
the total depth of the stream at that point because
we know how far above the sensor is above the streambed.
We can also
calculate total discharge (how much water is passing by that
point in a second) because if we
in the stream at various water depths, we can develop
a graph and know
how much water is flowing at different depths.
Carrasco at WSU Whatcom County Extension, (360) 676-6736.
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