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REASON 2014 Proof of Concept Study

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On June 17, 2014, an automated water quality monitoring station was installed on the Moses-Saunders power dam to measure near shore water quality of the St. Lawrence River on a continual basis. Water is drawn from the cooling water intake of the generating unit nearest the US shore (Unit 32). This water is tested every minute for temperature, turbidity, color dissolved organic material (CDOM), phycocyanin, chlorophyll a, and specific conductivity. Turbidity is a measurement of the cloudiness of the water. In general, the St Lawrence River water is not very turbid. CDOM is what gives some water a brownish color and may be used to indicate increases in runoff.  Phycocyanin is used to test the water for blue-green algae, which may be harmful to the waterway. The St. Lawrence River water is also assessed for chlorophyll a, the photosynthetic pigment found in all phytoplankton. Specific conductivity is measured to determine the concentration of salt (ions) in the water. The information gathered from this sampling site will be used to develop a reference point for year-round scientific monitoring of the St. Lawrence River.  To date, the data collected reveal many interesting features that we are beginning to correlate with other environmental parameters so that we can establish causality and establish predictive models of water quality and assist in source tracking inputs to the nearshore river environment.

Future plans at the Moses-Saunders dam site include sensor locations in the center of the dam (Unit 17) to monitor main channel water as well as at Unit 1, the turbine nearest the Canadian shore.

Data will be made available to the public through the Great Lakes Observing System data portal.