Water Quality Instrumentation

A Description of the Instruments Used to Collect Water Quality Data on the North Slope

     Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) and the University of Michigan Marine Hydrodynamic Lab’s Automated Lagrangian Water Quality Assessment System (ALWAS)* is an inexpensive, free-floating, water quality measuring and watershed evaluation system. It is capable of making a wide range of measurements rapidly and easily and storing the results for later retrieval and analysis.
     Current water quality sampling methods involve collecting water samples in the field and then returning them to a laboratory for measurement, or consist of manually inserting an array of expensive equipment into the water to be measured. These manually measured results may then be hand-analyzed, but typically are not further processed. In contrast, ALWAS automatically takes measurements as often as every 40 seconds, and uploads the results to a software package for processing and insertion into a geographic information system (GIS) for more sophisticated review and display.
     The system includes the buoy, water quality sensors, a microprocessor and recording device, GIS interface software, and a decision support system (DSS) that generates water quality maps based on the measurements. The buoy, as presently configured, measures the following parameters at a user-selectable rate: GPS Data, including geographic location (latitude and longitude), speed and heading, quality metric, number of visible satellites, time and date; water properties, including temperature, depth, conductivity, salinity, total dissolved solids, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll-a, oxidation reduction potential, nitrate, ammonium, chloride and blue-green algae as well as ancillary data, including barometric pressure, battery voltage and remaining memory.
* Patent Pending

     BathyBoat is a new, cost-effective, easily-deployable, water depth mapping tool for restricted harbors and other hard-to-access remote locations. The University of Michigan Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories (MHL) in collaboration with the Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) has designed, fabricated, and field tested this remotely controlled and electrically powered boat to conduct precision bathymetric surveys.
     The BathyBoat system consists of the vessel equipped with a high-resolution GPS unit, a precision depth sounder, water temperature and conductivity sensors, a data recording and storage device, and a radio communication package. BathyBoat’s location is remotely controlled from shore or boat and information from the boat is transmitted real-time and displayed on a laptop computer.
     Customized software shows GPS location, heading, speed, depth, temperature, conductivity, and battery life superimposed on a satellite image while out in the field. BathyBoat data is also stored onboard for later retrieval and analysis. Customized Geographic Information System (GIS) software creates shapefile, kml, and Microsoft Excel outputs of the data for display in a GIS or in GoogleEarth.
     BathytBoat is ideal for use in restricted water bodies such as harbors, marinas (with and without moored boats), rivers, lakes, and shallow water estuaries. The boat is also non-polluting for use in sensitive areas. The boat is three feet in length and the boat, computer, and remote control land-based unit weigh less than 40 pounds. This allows for deployment from helicopter or ship in remote locations such as the North Slope of Alaska.