Articles 22 Nov, 2021

Top 3 Reasons for Data-Driven Water Quality Management

  • Monitoring water quality in real-time allows you to avoid problems in your water body;
  • Real-time data offers valuable insights about the chemistry of your lake and algae trends;
  • A data-driven approach improves decision-making for reducing nutrients.

“Real-time data is actionable data,” said Chief Water Specialist EJ Neafsey in a recent webinar. When it comes to water quality monitoring, the best way to avoid economic and health impacts is to take action before problems occur. Making decisions in real-time means you understand what’s happening in your water body and act accordingly to prevent disasters. Disasters can be anything from harmful algal blooms to elevated pH levels or dissolved oxygen crashes.

Here are the top 3 reasons why you need to switch to a data-driven approach in your water quality management, according to EJ Neafsey.

#1 – Get powerful insights: real-time data & historical trends

The most effective way to control algae blooms is to be able to predict them. To achieve this, you need current and historical data about your lake, algae trends, and weather patterns.

In this case, a combination of monitoring methods and tools is essential, such as in-situ data, satellite remote sensing images, and sampling. Integrating our vertical profiling system into your toolkit is also necessary. By measuring key water quality parameters in high resolution at different water depths, you get a detailed vertical profile of the water column, delivered to you in real-time.

This allows you to see what’s going on in a water body as a whole and you can also understand the benthic zone near the sediment. Monitoring this deep layer allows you to track seasonal phosphorus releases from the sediment. This is relevant because, oftentimes, we’ll see that algal dynamics start in the benthic zone and migrate up towards the water surface.

A weather station can be used to track weather patterns and trends. Our station collects meteorological information in real-time, such as solar irradiation, wind speed and direction, air temperature, and precipitation. Many of these can influence the proliferation of algae blooms.

At LG Sonic, we have a huge dataset containing over a decade of information that we can draw from for different climates and conditions. All of this data, historical and current, is easily accessible via an online platform (MPC-View).

#2 – Dramatically improve the efficacy of algae control (and therefore, cost-savings) 

It’s no secret that a targeted approach to algae control can save you time and money. To achieve this, you first need to understand the dynamics of your lake and the stage of growth that algae are currently at.

One of the things we see when blooms get out of hand is that a lot of primary producers don’t really recognize cyanobacteria as food; they reject it. So, it’s important to control the algae from the earliest phase to ensure that dissolved oxygen levels are at their highest possible.

Although it’s much easier to control a bloom before it starts, we can certainly come in and correct an ongoing algae bloom. We do this with our MPC-Buoy, which monitors water quality in real-time and applies low-power ultrasound to stop algae from growing.

Important to note is that we’re never completely eliminating all the algae and diatoms, nor do we want to. They have an important role in the ecosystem. So really, what we’re doing is applying more of a gentle method to keep everything from getting out of control, which manifests itself as a bloom.

#3 – Improve your decision-making for better nutrient reduction efforts

Is phosphorus coming from the sediments, non-point source runoff, or both? And why should you care?

Phosphorus is the primary fuel for algal blooms. It ends up in a water body, either carried by rain or leaching from the sediments. A lot of the algal dynamics that we’re observing actually start in the benthic zone. Oftentimes, we’ll see that algae blooms start there and migrate up towards the surface.

A vertical profiler captures information that takes place in that critical benthic zone and helps us be a lot more predictive in terms of how we’re monitoring potential algal blooms. Besides, we also know that a lot of lakes are stratified, so we can keep an eye on things like hypoxic and anoxic zones that are located throughout the water column.

These were the main takeaways from the first webinar of our series on algae control. We’ve got two more webinars scheduled! You can register for one or both. More details can be found here.