April 12, 2019
We talk a lot about water quality because its a pretty critical piece of getting everybody in the river safely. We need lots of data to show the city we know what we’re doing, but what we didn’t realize when we started this crazy idea is we would end up being the only organization collecting long-term continuous water quality measurements. We don’t do it every year or all the time, but when we do it; we do it everyday. Since most groups collect data once a week in the summer months or once a month to understand the overall health of the river year to year, our continuous data is super exciting to groups like Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, our key science partners.
Prepping for a bunch of data collection we’re doing in Summer 2019, we took our scientists out to Pier 17 to install our sonde, a water quality instrument that grabs info like turbidity, pH, temperature and dissolved oxygen every 15 minutes. This data will be paired with daily bacteria tests we’ll run throughout the summer months to create a new algorithm that will predict water quality data in real-time, for the first time ever!
Huge shout out to our lead scientist, Wade McGillis and his counterpart Shawnee Nicole Traylor who are developing the algorithm for us and helping us chart new ways to understand what’s happening in the river at any point someone might jump in!
It was a crazy day. We started by hauling ourselves up to LDEO to retrieve a 20ft pipe we needed that would house the water quality instrument. We then met Wade and his rockstar student, Haokai at the Manhattan’s Pier 17 (just below the Brooklyn Bridge) who brought the tools and the sensor.
Our good friend Rob from the Billion Oyster Project came in by boat and helped us connect the tube to the pier. Wade almost fell in, but aside from that, it all went pretty smoothly! We’re now collecting data every 15 minutes on the waters below the Brooklyn Bridge. The sonde and tube could stay put for 100 years Wade says and keep on pulling data; but for now, we have access through the end of the year.