The water quality of the entire Savannah River can now be tracked by a computerized sensor system, invented at Clemson and funded by the National Science Foundation.
It’s called Intelligent River research.
Clemson spokesperson Debbie Dalhouse says a group of Clemson scientists have worked for about four years with the goal of getting the environment to “talk” to them.
“By talk, what they are doing is putting sensors in water bodies, rivers or lakes, that transmit data about the water temperature, the flow rate, are there any pollutants, ” Dalhouse says.*
The data is sent wirelessly from what is called a Motestack, a tiny computer the size of a Rubik’s cube, imbedded inside of a specially designed buoy. It sends the data wirelessly to Clemson’s supercomputing center.
Dalhouse explains that the process saves precious time and manpower: “When we are in conditions like are now with drought, people who manage the water–the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers–need to know what is going on immediately. They don’t need to rely on data that is a week or a month or a year old.”
Dalhouse says scientists can watch the data feed on a public web site. One hundred such sensors will run the 312-mile length of the Savannah River, starting from the North Carolina Mountains to just before the river enters the ocean. New proposed dredging at the Savannah River will not affect it, say the Clemson scientists.
The readings, taken every few seconds, will be used to help with economic development and industry. For example. the Army Corps of Engineers will use it to determine how dams release water.
The National Science Foundation calls this technology “critical”-saying that U.S. watersheds are in peril.
The way this data is collected is not just for rivers. Dalhouse says there are more applications being developed for “intelligent” farms, forests and buildings.”