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NSF Grant to Fund Savannah River Water Quality Monitors

MoteStack sensor assembly being placed in Savannah River buoy (Clemson University)

MoteStack sensor assembly placed in Savannah River buoy (Clemson University)

Clemson University in South Carolina says it received a grant to develop a computerized water-quality technology for the entire length of the Savannah River. The four-year grant, exceeding $3 million, is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Computer and Network Systems.

The system is expected to cover a network of buoys (pictured left) along the 312 mile river outfitted with environmental sensors providing real-time data on water quality and flow rate, at a scale considered up to now prohibitively expensive. The data will be used for water resources management to meet demand for drinking water, hydroelectric power, recreation, and industrial production.

The sensors will be built into an assembly called a MoteStack about the size of a Rubik’s Cube, with each buoy anchored to the river bottom. The sensors will collect data on water temperature, flow rate, turbidity, oxygen levels, and the presence of pollutants. Patents have been filed for the MoteStack and buoy.

Data will then be uploaded to a computing backbone, where observation management software will normalize and validate the data, then route the results to end-user applications.

The project team includes computer scientists, engineers, ecologists, and economists. Partnering with the university are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers, as well as state agencies, local governments, and foundations.

The project is part of Clemson’s Intelligent River initiative to develop and operate hydrological observation systems to support research and provide real-time monitoring, analysis, and management of water resources in South Carolina.

Read more: Real-Time Coastal Monitoring System in Development

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