Remote monitoring stations

The Water Survey of Canada, a division of Environment Canada, is a federal government agency responsible for collection, interpretation and dissemination of water source data and information. As a division of Environment Canada, the Water Survey of Canada (WSC) covers a vast range of topographical environs from Arctic Canada to the US border with elevations varying from sea level to over 13,000 feet (4,000 metres). An estimated 7% of the world’s renewable water supplies are found in Canada. Canada’s hydrology is incredibly diverse thanks to a wide range of bio-physical ecozones. WSC operates in partnership with all of the Canadian provinces, territories and other agencies, operating over 2,500 active hydrometric gauges across the country. The hydrologic and socioeconomic diversity found in Canada makes water resource management incredibly challenging.

The ability to collect useful data about sediment transport and other pollutants closely coupled to SSC (such as nutrients, e-coli, phosphates and nitrates) is dependent on the timing and frequency of manual grab samples during run-off events. Most sediment and pollutant is transported during a small number of storm events which are infrequent and unpredictable. When they do occur, trained personnel or the proper equipment may not be available to collect grab samples. Manual grab sampling schemes are also labor-intensive, inefficient, dangerous and costly (and aren’t done 24/7/365).

An automated pump sampler can eliminate the need to sample manually, but for the expense of a rechargeable power system, the autosampler, and possibly a datalogger and a typical turbidity probe (which is often “noisy” and can trigger many unneces- sary samples), you’re no better off. The primary limiting factor is the number of sample bottles. By the time the autosampler is full, the probability that any sample will have been taken during the critical point of a storm event is low. Expensive lab analysis costs are likely wasted.

Neither method provides adequate information to make credible suspended sediment load estimates.

With an automated pump sampler driven by the DTS-12 digital turbidity sensor and controlled by the Axiom H2 datalogger, you obtain a better understanding of the water’s quality, while taking a minimum number of samples, reducing site visits and saving lab analysis costs.

The result is a series of water samples, intelligently taken—only during an event, when the water’s turbidity is high. Site visits are required only when the pump sampler is at capacity (which can be determined remotely via optional telemetry or scheduled for after known storm activity), and lab analysis costs are minimized as every sample counts.

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Manitoba Hydro is the electric power and natural gas utility in the province of Manitoba, Canada. Founded in 1961, it is a provincial Crown Corporation, governed by the Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board and the Manitoba Hydro Act

Manitoba Hydro has been using radio telemetry, dataloggers and turbidity sensors for a number of years as part of an early warning suspended sediment load monitoring system on the Burntwood River in Manitoba, Canada.

Turbidity arrays were deployed from 6 rafts both upstream and downstream of the Burntwood River dam construction site. With virtual real-time data telemetry and analysis, turbidity data is converted to suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) using established sediment rating curves (NTU SSC ratings) developed over several years of monitoring. StreamTrac software provides the automated data collection, processing, normalization, graphing and alarm notification. 

Upstream, background SSC is automatically computed and used to normalize downstream monitoring sites. By correcting for background in real time, increased SSC, as a result of construction activities can be immediately detected. Using this early warning detection network, construction activities are optimized to maintain SSC within safe limits for the local ecology.

n 2011 WSC named FTS as the primary supplier of dataloggers in a 2-year contract worth $1.7 million. In 2012, WSC elected to extend the contract for a further 2 years. The push to incorporate the rugged yet simple-to-use Axiom H2 datalogger is part of a national strategy to lower costs and increase the reliability of remote monitoring stations.

Technicians performing field visits are often on the road for days at a time, and the Axiom's integrated touchscreen reduces the amount of gear required to visit a site, which is often reachable only by helicopter. Native support for a large number of sensors and easy to use graphical interface also reduces a technicians' time at the site.

As of the end of 2013, WSC has deployed more than 800 Axiom dataloggers and DCPs over 3 years.

Equipment deployed

Number of FTS stations: 800+