Ohio researcher explores dam removal

By on August 18, 2009

Located in Southwest Ohio, Buck Creek and its tributary, Beaver Creek, run through a series of low-head dams in Springfield, Ohio.

Historically, the four dams diverted water and protected the surrounding utilities along a continuous seven mile stretch. Now, the Springfield Conservancy District is exploring stream restoration efforts that include modification or removal of the four dams. This will help restore the natural flow of sediments and fish along the entire river and provide a healthier ecosystem for Buck Creek.

Many precautions have been taken to observe and address concerns such as flood hazards, wetland soils, endangered species, historic properties and sites, combined sewer overflows, and stream integrity. Dr. John Ritter, Professor of Geology from nearby Wittenberg University, has been studying the project’s effects on Buck Creek’s ecosystem.

Fondriest Environmental recently worked with Professor Ritter to setup research tools such as a rooftop weather station, stream gauge station, and two water quality monitoring stations to help automate sampling efforts

The research tools implemented at Buck Creek will allow the Springfield Conservancy District and researchers at Wittenberg to monitor weather and water quality data as it occurs, helping to facilitate a safe dam removal and successful stream restoration.

Technician wiring a bridge-mounted sonde junction box.

Technician wiring a bridge-mounted sonde junction box.

The two water quality stations are located upstream and downstream of the reach with the low-head dams in order to assess the impact of changes to them on water quality. Each station is outfitted with a YSI 6920 V2-2 multi-parameter sonde that measures temperature, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. The downstream site, connected to a bridge, uses spread spectrum radio telemetry to send data back to the University. Upstream, the remote water quality station was outside of radio telemetry range; therefore, this system was outfitted with a built-in cellular modem to transmit data over the Verizon cellular network.

The stream gauge station is housed at a gage house formerly managed by the U.S. Geological Survey. The gauge station employs a NexSens AccuStage vented water level sensor. The sensor is fixed in a stilling well below the minimum expected water level, and a cable containing the sensor signals and vent tube runs from the sensor to a 4100-iSIC radio telemetry data logger.

Located on the roof of the Wittenberg lab building is a multi-parameter weather station. The weather station is multi-functional; it collects weather data locally from a multi-parameter weather sensor, and it also serves as radio signal repeater from the remote sites into the Wittenberg lab. The Vaisala model WXT520 is a unique multi-parameter weather sensor that simultaneously measures wind speed and direction, liquid precipitation, barometric pressure, temperature, and relative humidity.

The remote monitoring sites integrate with one another to form a reliable network for streaming environmental data into Wittenberg’s Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center. In the Geology lab, NexSens iChart Software serves as the centralized database and control center for the remote network. iChart Software is also set to automatically relay incoming data to a NexSens WQData website. WQData is a secure web datacenter hosted by NexSens Technology that provides an online interface for viewing environmental data. It offers 24/7 instant access to project data. This web-based interface allows researchers at Wittenberg and other interested parties to view current and past conditions of Buck Creek from any internet browser.

For more information on Remote Environmental Monitoring Systems, call 888.426.2151 or visit www.nexsens.com.

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