In order to provide continuous water-quality information for waterhead sheds in the Allegheny River Basin, the Evergreen Conservancy collaborated with the Indiana County Emergency Management Agency in Indiana, Pennsylvania to install and maintain a cellular telemetry water monitoring system in Indiana County. The telemetry systems are located at five sites to alert staff in the event of spills, leaks, accidents, holding pond failures and/or contaminated nonpoint-source runoff.
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Evergreen Conservancy, Indiana, PA
The challenge was to make the system work with the cellular limitations and solar energy in the hills and valleys of western Pennsylvania. The sites were chosen because they could be impacted by potential spills from vehicle accidents, as well as non-point sources such as agricultural runoff, abandoned mine drainage, spills at natural gas well sites, and construction activities which could severely affect water quality.
The telemetry installations were performed by Evergreen volunteers. These systems include a datalogger with cellular communications modem, solar charging system with solar panel, connected to a Manta multiparameter probe that monitors six water quality parameters.
Data is collected every 30 minutes and downloaded manually and/or transmitted via cellular communication to a web site a minimum of twice a month. Volunteers download data, service the equipment, and check the data for accuracy.
The system has proven to be effective and efficient. Alerts can be set to warn of any pollution events that could impact water quality and allow emergency responders to act as soon as changing water conditions are detected. It also provides consistent monitoring for overall stream quality. This early monitoring system increases the chance that more aquatic life can be saved or drinking water intakes downstream may be less likely to be disrupted by a pollution event.