Lake Access: Making Water Quality Data Real and Relevant for Minnesotans

EPA Grant Number: R827179
Title: Lake Access: Making Water Quality Data Real and Relevant for Minnesotans
Investigators: Barten, John , Axler, Richard , Cangialosi, Peter , Hagley, Cindy , Host, George E. , Munson, Bruce
Current Investigators: Barten, John
Institution: Suburban Hennepin Regional Park District, MN
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: November 1, 1998 through October 31, 2000
Project Amount: $424,999
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Sustainability , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration

Description:

Communities are becoming increasingly involved in land management decisions that affect their quality of life. Access to information for making informed decisions, however, has been a limiting factor, both in terms of availability and understanding. A new, innovative water quality monitoring technology holds promise for delivering real-time information to the public. The Remote Underwater Sampling System (RUSS), a mobile underwater sensor package tethered to a platform containing an on-board computer, solar panels and telemetry equipment, transmits data on a suite of water quality variables to a land based computer in real time.

Concurrent with the development of this sensor technology has been a National Science Foundation-funded education initiative to provide college and high school students with skills needed to resolve today's environmental problems. Known as Water on the Web (WOW), the project provides an Internet interface to the RUSS units, and builds curricula of water chemistry, biology, aquatic ecology, data visualization, and other aspects of science around RUSS units deployed in Minnesota lakes.

In this proposal, WOW investigators have joined with Hennepin Parks and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to: i) integrate the real-time RUSS sensor data with the historical and current monitoring data; ii) combine these data with appropriate watershed-based land use and cultural data; and iii) place these data into a web, kiosk, and programmatic framework that provides not only public access to data, but also the educational materials required for data interpretation; and iv) develop and implement mechanisms for incorporating public input into the decision-making process.

Approach:

Three RUSS units will be deployed in selected locations within the watershed districts. Near-real time data profiles on lake temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, conductivity, turbidity and pH will be transmitted to an Internet-linked base station. Data will be incorporated into database management, geographic information, simulation modeling and data visualization systems, with well-documented educational materials. This synthesized information will be available through an Internet web site and through touchscreen information kiosks deployed in high visibility areas. A series of workshops will be conducted to maximize public awareness and access to this system. The web site will be used to collect and summarize public input, and distribute this information on a timely basis to decision-making organizations.

Expected Results:

This project will provide public access to information relevant to their current and future quality of life. We will provide an increased public understanding of factors affecting water quality in Minnesota lakes, along with information to make sound decisions on current regional issues. The data and information management and delivery systems developed in this project will be designed to be easily adapted to other communities.

Supplemental Keywords:

EMPACT, water quality monitoring, public information access, internet., Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Environmental Chemistry, State, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Risk Assessment, environmental monitoring, aquatic ecosystem, Minnesota, MN, EMPACT, lake access, community-based approach, public information, web site development, remote underwater sampling, public access, water quality, public outreach, real-time monitoring, sensor technology

Relevant Websites:

The data will be available through the EMPACT "Lake Access" site at

http://www.nrri.umn.edu/empact

Concurrent with the development of RUSS sensor technology for EMPACT has been an NSF funded education initiative to provide college and high school students with skills needed to resolve today's environmental aquatic problems. This initiative, known as Water on the Web, provides an Internet interface to the RUSS units, and builds curricula of water chemistry, biology, aquatic ecology, data visualization, and other aspects of science around RUSS units deployed in Minnesota lakes. The particular Web site is located at

http://wow.nrri.umn.edu

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report