New data buoy and WIZARD reveals insights

A new data buoy and WIZARD monitoring platform deployed in the Ohio River near the Robert C. Byrd Dam is revealing key insights into the effects of dredging on endangered freshwater mussels.

WIZARD PlatformThe Ohio river is home to populations of various species of mussels that even most locals know very little about. Being little known does not mean that they are of little importance to our overall ecosystem. Freshwater mussels are not only an important food source for muskrats, waterfowl and fish but are also very important indicators of water quality. 

Because of the vital role that these bi-valves play in the ecosystem, it is now more imperative than ever that we do all we can to protect them when working in local rivers and streams. This challenge became abundantly clear to the US Army Corps of Engineers at the Robert C. Byrd Lock Dam.

Robert C. Byrd Lock and Dam is the 10th of its kind on the Ohio River, located 280 miles downstream of Pittsburgh. There are 2 locks: one for commercial barge traffic that's 1,200 feet long by 110 feet wide, an auxiliary lock that is 600 feet long by 110 feet wide. As with all navigable locks, RCB requires dredging operations to keep the navigation channels open and operable.

When presented with the challenge of monitoring the effects of dredging on the local mussel populations the USACE reached out to the remote environmental monitoring sector. The challenge was to deliver a robust field deployable sediment deposition and scour platform capable of recording and sending data at a minimum of 5 minute intervals. The platform also had to have the capability to communicate with a multi-parameter datasonde delivering Temperature (F), Conductivity (uS/cm), Depth (m), pH, Turbidity (NTU), Diss. Oxygen Saturation (%), and Diss. Oxygen (mg/L).

When presented with these challenges Aridea Solutions engineered and delivered the WIZARD (Water Intrinsic Zoological Ambient Research Device) Platform. The following is a description of the WIZARD Solution:

  • Aridea LLC furnished a communication buoy, eight (8) individual transducer SeaTek Ultrasonic Ranging Systems and a substrate monitoring platform that comprised a field deployable sediment deposition and scour platform combined with a multi-parameter datasonde capable of recording and sending data at a minimum of 5 minute intervals.
  • Data is made accessible through the internet via a cellular broadband connection to ARIDEA’S Thinginformer Software platform.
  • Data is also retrievable in a format compatible with Microsoft Excel.
  • The communications platform is run on battery power which is re-charged using solar panels.
  • The buoy is able to be deployed in the Ohio River at depths from 3 m to 20 m.
  • Eight (8) individual transducer SeaTek Ultrasonic Ranging Systems ( capable of measuring changes in sediment of 1 millimeter with all communications hardware, electronics package, and cables being assembled and provided by Aridea Solutions.
  • Transducers housed in stainless steel 0.5 inch in diameter, 1.0 inch in height.
  • Substrate monitoring platform capable of being deployed without divers in 3 m to 20 m of water on the Ohio River from a boat.

The Aridea Solutions WIZARD Platform provides an incredibly flexible solution that allows for the collection and aggregation of multiple environmental parameters through a single interface utilizing best of breed, off-the-shelf sensor technology. This flexible solution is achieved by Aridea Solutions sensor agnostic communication and data delivery system.

“Simply put, we can connect to and deliver data from any industrial protocol sensor.” CM