Olentangy Water Quality

By on August 17, 2010

Project Overview

Located within the quickly developing area of northern Columbus, and southern Delaware County, the Olentangy River is a tributary of the Scioto River in Ohio. It is positioned within a 30 minute drive for over 1.5 million Ohio residents. Despite rapid housing and business development around the Columbus area, the Olentangy River has seen an improvement in water quality, as it was upgraded to an exceptional warm water habitat by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

System Description

Recently, the Ohio State University’s Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (ORWRP) contacted Fondriest Environmental to install a water quality monitoring station with radio telemetry in the Olentangy River. Using a NexSens 4100-iSIC spread spectrum radio and a YSI 6600 sonde, OSU researchers are able to monitor the water quality data from their research facility. The suite of measurement parameters include: temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, ORP, turbidity, chlorophyll and water level. This station is a complement to the NexSens real-time wetland monitoring system already in place that covers the 25 acre marshy wetland.

During the recent installation, Fondriest engineers mounted a secure deployment pipe to a unistrut structure along the side of a bike path bridge. The bike path is a common route to campus for Ohio State students, so it was essential that the water quality station did not disrupt the student traffic. Additionally, the deployment pipe features a locking well cap to prevent the water quality measurement sonde from being vandalized or stolen.

Having the deployment pipe at the top of the bridge also means that wetland researchers are able to maintain the sensors without entering the river. This is especially beneficial during periods of high water and the frigid winter months. The deployment pipe is equipped with a tethered breakaway system to allow for harsh river conditions – if too much debris builds up against the pipe, it will break away, but the deployment apparatus and water quality sonde will be contained by a stainless steel cable.

Having all these structural safeguards is very helpful to wetland researchers, but perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the NexSens water quality monitoring network is the ability to monitor data from their newly constructed campus wetland research building. Dr. William Mitsch, Wetlands Scientist and director of the ORWRP, had this to say about the real-time wetlands data: “It is the ecological analogy of seeing the score of a game as it is happening as opposed to reading about it the next day.” Thousands of people visit the ORWRP every year to observe wildlife, conduct research, and enjoy the beautiful landscape. The ORWRP is not just a research park; it is also open to the general public. It is located immediately north of the Ohio State University campus, and it is open daily to the general public from 9:00 a.m. to sundown.

Image credit: Brian Patrick

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