Cleveland Water and Great Lakes Observing System Reach Agreement

A pair of observation buoys will be kept afloat. Cleveland Water has contracted with the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) to deploy and maintain the two monitors in the upcoming season in which algal blooms, among other things, need to be monitored for safe public water use.

“Connecting municipalities with the federal government, and also private enterprise, is a more sustainable model than just one entity being responsible for the upkeep of a large piece of equipment in which so many have a stake,” said Kelli Paige, executive director of the Great Lakes Observing System. “The life of this instrumentation may go through more than one funding cycle. First the purchase and initial deployment, and then operation in subsequent years.”

In 2014, GLOS partnered with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab to fund the purchase and deployment of two buoys that could monitor the physical, atmospheric, and water quality conditions needed to adequately characterize the conditions of the hypoxic zone in Lake Erie. With the equipment acquired, a maintenance contract was necessary to keep the buoys in action. The transition of this project into operation is the culmination of a GLERL research and development collaboration with Cleveland Water that goes back to 2007. This project was funded by GLERL through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Buoys on the Great Lakes have to come out of the water in the winter to prevent damage that might occur due to ice.  The contract between Cleveland Water and GLOS provides for the buoys going in and out of the water, repair and storage, and maintenance during the May-November field season.

“Our first priority is the health of our customers,” said Scott Moegling, Water Quality Manager with Cleveland Water. “We receive valuable and complex information in real time with these buoys. That data is an important addition to our treatment tool kit.”

The bottom waters of central Lake Erie regularly go hypoxic during the summer and fall months. Water managers use data from smart buoys to ensure the fresh water coming in to plants along the Ohio shoreline is treated properly. Lake Erie water conditions change by season, and are also impacted by storms and wind events resulting in upwelling of cold water. Smart buoys like the pair in Cleveland gather constant information on changing lake conditions. Information includes water temperature, wind speeds, wave heights, and oxygen levels; all things that can impact the quality of drinking water, as well as boating and swimming safety.

“We are pleased to continue work on the Cleveland buoys,” Ed Verhamme of LimnoTech, the company contracted to maintain the Cleveland buoys adds. “Our partnership with GLOS and Cleveland Water allows decision-makers to get the best information to keep water safe for the public.”

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Image Credit: Ed Verhamme, LimnoTech