North East Water Resources Network (NEWRnet): A real-time water quality sensor network to study impacts of climate variability for Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont
Monday, 15 December 2014
In recent years, the development of a new generation of optical biogeochemical sensors coupled with increasingly widespread and relatively inexpensive data storage and transmission technology, has enabled watershed scientists to collect high-frequency water quality data that can be transmitted to researchers, managers and stakeholders in quasi real-time. However, the application of this technology to address regional water quality challenges across different types of land-use/cover is just being explored. Here we present the development of new regional water quality monitoring network in the northeastern United States (DE, RI,VT) - the North East Water Resources Network (NEWRnet). NEWRnet is used as a case study in the process associated with development and implementation of a regional, cross-state collaborative network for monitoring water quality; one of the first, we believe, of its kind. . Two fundamental questions that we address are: 1) What is the impact of climate variability and other disturbances on water quality for watersheds with different land uses extending across the north-south gradient (VT to DE)? 2) Do high-frequency water quality data provide valuable information and insights to stakeholders and thus lead to better and time efficient decision making? Our network consists of a suite of sites across each state with similar basic land covers (forested, agricultural and urban). Each site within the network is currently equipped with an s::can spectrolyser and YSI EXO2 sonde, as well as pressure transducers for estimating discharge and ISCO automated sampling systems. All sensor data is telemetered on an hourly basis from the monitoring site to a regional database housed at the University of Delaware, which is accessible to the entire research team In addition to university scientists and researchers, we also partner with local/state drinking water utilities (DWUs) to assess how this real-time water quality data can assist with their day-to-day operations and planning. We will present initial data from the network highlighting regional water quality responses to episodic events or “hot moments”. We also discuss challenges regarding regional data management, quality assurance and control, which are likely applicable to other similar networks under development.