Watershed Monitoring System: Scioto Brush Creek

By on August 17, 2010

Project Overview

A watershed is a region or area that drains surface water to a common point. Often called drainage basins or hydrologic units, they can cover a large multi-state area, like the Ohio River watershed, or a relatively small area, like the drainage basin of a small stream or pond. One of the more intact watersheds of the Ohio region is the Scioto Brush Creek Watershed, covering an area of 274 square miles in Adams and Scioto Counties.

Within the Brush Creek Watershed, Scioto Brush Creek flows 36 miles from its headwaters in Northeast Adams County to the Scioto River. The Creek is recognized by the Ohio EPA as an outstanding warm water habitat. It is home to many different fish species and aquatic organisms that require high water quality for their survival. Although Scioto Brush Creek is a high quality stream, several potential pollutants in the area pose a threat to the stream’s health.

Like other streams around the state, non-point source pollution is the biggest cause of impairment to Scioto Brush Creek and its tributaries. Faulty septic systems, soil erosion, and illegal dumps are some of the more serious causes of non-point source pollution within the Scioto Brush Creek Watershed (1).

Shawnee State University’s Dr. Bob Deal, a plant biologist heavily involved in research on mitigation wetlands, was recently involved in a collaborative project to monitor environmental parameters in Scioto Brush Creek. NexSens Technology worked with Dr. Deal to design, provide equipment for, and help set up a real-time weather and water quality monitoring system.

Watershed Monitoring System Description

Shawnee State’s real-time watershed monitoring system consists of a NexSens 3100-iSIC Cellular Data Logging system interfacing to water quality, water level, and weather monitoring instrumentation. Cellular data telemetry was selected for its cost-effective data transfer and ability to transmit data in remote monitoring areas.

Mounted to the top of a 2″ dia. galvanized steel pole, a Vaisala WXT510 multi-parameter weather transmitter simultaneously measures the following weather parameters; wind speed and direction, liquid precipitation, barometric pressure, air temperature, and relative humidity. This sensor is a popular complement to real-time environmental data logging systems due to its high accuracy measurements and low cost of ownership.

YSI’s 6920 V2-2 multi-parameter water quality sonde was selected for measuring water quality within Brush Creek. The instrument is securely housed within a 4″ PVC deployment pipe and simultaneously measures temperature, conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. An OTT PS1 water level sensor is deployed nearby within a 1″ PVC deployment pipe. The PS1 continuously measures the pressure and temperature of the water, compensating for effects in temperature and relative density of water to output high accuracy level measurements.

With NexSens data telemetry, software, and web hosting, Shawnee State researchers and other local Brush Creek Watershed conservationists have real-time access to previously unavailable data. NexSens’ WQData web datacenter provides open-access data via the Internet using any standard web browser. Information gathered will be used to better understand and preserve the water quality of Scioto Brush Creek.

The project is part of a collaborative effort with five Ohio institutions: Ohio State University, Wright State University, Shawnee State University, Central State University, and Kenyon College. Real-time data from each of these institutions will be made available at The Ohio State University’s Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park (ORWRP) in Columbus, OH.

(1) Source: “Getting to Know the Scioto Brush Creek Watershed.” Friends of Scioto Brush Creek.

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