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🤖 "Water Quality and Flow Monitoring in a Changing Environment"


Photo by Chris Liverani / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Adam Hobson & Helen Taylor
Guest: Chris Davis | Member | Lower 48 Instruments
Category: 🤖 Technology

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:05] “I think that one of the [biggest challenges in water monitoring] is just dealing with the environment. So what we work in varies pretty radically. So [for example] we […] work in mining. […] You need to have equipment that is durable and rugged, and can stand up to whatever you're going to put it into. So making sure that all of that material is suitable for the different places that you install it in is a huge challenge. […] [Also], the changing regulatory environment is huge. There's so many changes and trying to keep up on it and make sure that you can help the client to meet their obligations is a huge challenge.”

[5:02] “One of the biggest things that's kind of popping up now recently is PFAS monitoring. So there's a lot of changing regulations around that. And measuring the plastics in the water is becoming a big topic, […] microplastics.”

[10:34] “A huge thing right now is that a lot of our wastewater infrastructure is aging. And a lot of the wastewater plants themselves are up against capacity. So you have a couple of choices when you deal with an up against capacity plant. You can either A) increase the size of the plant, or B) you can reduce your inflood. So when you start looking at the money that's involved in trying to increase the size of a plant, it can be huge. […] Oftentimes, it becomes much more fiscally responsible to go through the process of doing a study and finding out where the infrastructure is breaking down, that's leading into groundwater to surface water runoff, etc, entering into the municipal sewage treatment. […] And the solution is […] monitoring throughout the city and find[ing] out which areas are the worst for the infiltration. And then you work on ways to solve that either by realigning, by installing new pipe, by sealing manholes. Something as simple as that sometimes can add to a huge savings.

[11:58] “We also see challenges with the customers in terms of basically new regulation that comes out with respect to stormwater. Some are required now to actually monitor how much discharge they're making into streams. So even if it's in theory clean water, they still need to monitor the type of water that's going into the streams. And if that water meets the same water quality that the stream is actually rated for. […] So if they have a problem in one area, they need to remediate it and treat that water before it actually hits the stream.”

[14:32] “In subterranean mines, at least within the US, a lot of times what happens when you interrupt the levels of rock, […] you interrupt the natural flow of water. So what can happen in a subterranean mine is that you're going to end up getting into the water supply. […] They [might] have to pump it out to continue their mining operations, but they have to return that water back to the surface. So when they do in this specific case, they need to monitor not only the water quality, […] but they also have to monitor the temperature […] as well as the amount of water that's being discharged. So you actually have to measure the amount of flow that you're returning back into the surrounding streams. Because what they want to make sure is that you don't end up having a situation where you are not returning enough water back to the surface that would have naturally been there.”

[15:39] “So the way that you do that is […] going to monitor stream depth across several different locations. And they have some historical records as to what that stream depth was like prior to the monitoring. You also have surface water temperature measurement, so you're going to measure the water that's in that stream. Then, on the actual mine side, […] we monitor all those water quality parameters, and make sure that the water that is being returned to those streams actually matches that […]. So you don't want to have it too muddy, you don't have to warm, too cold, certainly got to make sure that your pH is right. […] And the reason you do that is that you want to prevent changing the aquatic life that's present in the ecosystem. And in the case of the big large mining project we just completed, their issue is that they have a few different rare species of trout, as well as it's a huge income stream for the state. […] So they bring in anglers from all over the world to fish their waters every year. You want to make sure you have a good supply and you don't have kill off.”

[35:56] “I own a farm. And […] we've had development start to crop up over the last 20 years surrounding the farm. And I've been monitoring a creek on my farm for years. And when I built the new home on the property, […] the engineer who came out to do the assessments told me that, I needed to have a six foot culvert. […] My grandfather […] was a farmer, [said] I would triple that, if I were you. […] So I did. […] When I first put the culvert in 20 years ago, on average, I had about an inch worth of depth going through that culvert. Now, as of last year, I've got about 12 inches for the depth. […] And we're talking about averages, not spikes. […] This is directly due to run off. So I think that as different places, whether it be an university, whether it be a city, etc, start paying more attention to these runoff events from rain, and paying attention to the hard scapes that get put in versus permeable solutions. I think that's something that can really benefit everybody.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 41 min | 🗓️ 10/20/2021
✅ Time saved: 39 min