Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Susquehanna River Basin Commission Updates Instream Water Monitoring Website With New Features

On December 23, the
Susquehanna River Basin Commission announced a suite of new and enhanced features are now available under SRBC’s Continuous Instream Monitoring (CIM) website.

CIM is a network of approximately 75 stations throughout New York’s and Pennsylvania’s portions of the Susquehanna River Basin that are equipped with advanced water quality sensors and digital relay technology to enable real-time access to stream conditions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The importance of Continuous Instream Monitoring activities, particular in real-time, is immense,” says James Shallenberger, Manager of SRBC’s Monitoring and Protection Program.  “Real-time CIM allows for decisions based on current water quality conditions, supports assessment of water quality trends through time, and helps us analyze cause-and-effect relationships that impact water resources.” 

Because many stream conditions change slowly, years-long measurement records are needed to distinguish natural, short-term fluctuations from long-term changes. 

One of the unique and valuable facets of the Commission’s CIM programs is that the stations remain fixed in location for years and thereby support scientific analyses of long-term trends as well as exploration of predictor–response relationships. 

At the same time, CIM offers the public a snapshot of water quality indicators in real time — readings occur every 15 minutes and are updated to the website usually within the hour.

The enhanced CIM website provides easier access to current and historical station datasets. 

New functionality includes the ability to create graphs depicting parameters over time for specific monitoring stations and access to watershed profiles that are rich with maps and graphics on important water quality, water withdrawal, and land use information. 

Most CIM stations monitor the following five water quality indicators: water temperature, pH, specific conductance (water’s ability to conduct electricity), dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. 

The CIM is a fusion of SRBC’s two real-time monitoring projects: the Early Warning System (EWS) and Remote Water Quality Monitoring Network (RWQMN). 

The EWS was launched in 2003 to help protect and manage public water supply operations with sources in the Basin’s major rivers. 

The EWS combines real-time water quality sensors with real-time river flow gages to provide water supply operators with information that allows them to optimize their water source and treatment activities. 

And during spill events, the EWS enables emergency management coordinators to forecast pollutant movement and warn specific operators.

In 2010, the Commission launched the RWQMN to measure water quality indicators in real-time across parts of the Susquehanna River Basin where unconventional natural gas production was, or could become, underway.  Read more here.

By 2012, the RWQMN had more than 45 stations and was among the largest, basin-specific, real-time water quality monitoring programs in the nation. 

Starting in 2016, the Commission expanded the RWQMN to areas outside natural gas production. As of 2020, the RWQMN contained approximately 60 stations that measure and report conditions from streams and small rivers located throughout the Basin.

Visit the SRBC Continuous Instream Water Monitoring webpage.

For more information on programs, training opportunities and upcoming events, visit the Susquehanna River Basin Commission website.  Click Here to sign up for SRBC’s newsletter.   Follow SRBC on Twitter, visit them on YouTube.

(Photo: Active water quality monitoring sites.)

Related Articles:

-- SRBC Water Quality Monitoring Report Again Shows No Adverse Impact From Drilling On State Forest, Other Land In Priority Watersheds [2019]

[Posted: December 23, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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