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Mississippi River Boat Sensors Read Water Quality

Monday, September 23, 2019

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The American Queen steamboat, which travels the Mississippi River, will take on the task of helping monitor the condition of the water via a data-gathering sensor, thanks to a project developed in collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, and the American Queen Steamboat Co.

The new sensor was revealed early last week in Memphis. The data gathered will help preserve local ecosystems and provide a better understanding of overall water quality.

American Queen Water Sensor

The Associated Press reports that the steamboat is the first private vessel to carry this kind of sensor, though there are already 3,700 similar sensors situated along the river in fixed locations. Additionally, the water from the river is used in beverage manufacturing as well as farm irrigation.

Thegreenj, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The American Queen steamboat, which travels the Mississippi River, will take on the task of helping monitor the condition of the water via a data-gathering sensor, thanks to a project developed in collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, and the American Queen Steamboat Co.

The sensor on board the steamboat will read for nitrogen from lawns and farms, and even sewage that may appear in the Mississippi. The data can also help the relevant agencies in ecosystem renewal and other, similar projects. Every five minutes, the sensor will gather information on water temperatures, turbidity, oxygen and nitrates, among other information.

“No one wants to hunt, fish, paddle or cruise in or near water full of algae due to nutrient surge,” said West Memphis, Arkansas, Mayor Marco McClendon “We need to know what’s in our water to keep it clean.”

Nitrogen and phosphorus, stemming from farms and other sources, can flow down the river and wind up in the Gulf of Mexico, contributing to an oxygen-deprived “dead zone” in the Gulf. A kiosk on board the boat will also help educate visitors about what the sensor does.

The steamboat will also contribute to a better understanding of how two water masses mix, by passing the “junctions of two distributaries,” noted Eugene Turner, who works for Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences.

   

Tagged categories: NA; non-potable water; North America; potable water; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Ships and vessels

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