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Great Lakes Water Authority buoy pilot deployed in Detroit River

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The Great Lakes Water Authority has deployed a water quality monitoring buoy in the Detroit River with the University of Windsor and LimnoTech. // Courtesy of Molly Young / GLWA

The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) in Detroit, using its Water and Field Services teams in partnership with LimnoTech and the University of Windsor, deployed the first buoy on the Detroit River in an effort to improve monitoring of the quality of water from its source.

The buoy is fitted with a camera that provides 20 second clips every 10 minutes to GLWA’s southwest water intake (from where it draws water to send to its treatment facility. southwest water) and can serve as an early warning of changes in water quality.

“Working with our partners to collect this data is essential for monitoring and evaluating source water quality and proactive management before a problem is detected,” said John Norton Jr., chief energy officer, of research and innovation at GLWA.

“This work illustrates the regional collaboration envisioned in the founding of GLWA and is a prime example of how our innovative approach can use new technologies to improve operational performance and deliver value to our member partners.”

While there is currently no reason to be concerned about algal blooms – a rapid increase in the algal population in lakes and rivers – in the Detroit River, GLWA, which provides water. in about 40 percent of the state of Michigan, proactively monitors water.

He hopes the proactivity will help optimize long-term water treatment by reducing or eliminating facility closures – which can increase costs – caused by contaminants from algae blooms.

Recently deployed on the Canadian side of the Detroit River as a pilot, the buoy measures oxygen reduction potential, conductivity, temperature, pH levels, total algae, etc. It differs from other buoy projects by its proactive nature, as most are installed in areas with active proliferation issues.

“Data is essential for monitoring and assessing the quality of source water and for helping us collect baseline and seasonal data that can detect any diversion or unusual peaks,” says Andrea Busch, water management professional. energy, research and innovation, GLWA. “In addition, the data will be used for the long-term evaluation and optimization of GLWA’s water treatment system to ensure that we are consistently delivering the highest quality water.

The vessel was provided by the Real-Time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network (RAEON), a University of Windsor research collaboration funded by the Government of Canada and deployed by LimnoTech.

If changes occur in the water quality, the GLWA team is equipped to resolve the problem quickly, and within 1.6 miles of the water intake, there is sufficient time before problems occur. affect an installation. Once the pilot is complete, GLWA and its partners will be able to determine if there is a need to measure additional parameters and add more sensors.

“Our interest in the GLWA buoy stems from our work with water utilities on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair, where we monitor algal blooms to ensure safe drinking water,” said Mike McKay, Managing Director and Professor, Great Lakes. Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor. “While algal blooms in the Detroit River are not a current concern, the proactive steps taken will provide GLWA with increased readiness oversight. “