Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012MS157B

Acoustic Measurements for Monitoring Fine Suspended Sediment in Streams

Institute: Mississippi
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2013-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $40,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $80,036

Principal Investigators: James Chambers, Wayne Carpenter, Cristiane Surbeck

Abstract: More than 1500 miles of Mississippi streams are impaired or threatened by sedimentation and siltation, according to monitoring results reported by the U.S. EPA. Lessening this environmental impact requires an understanding of sediment and silt inputs into streams through continuous water quality monitoring, especially during storms. Current methods of monitoring water quality include continuous measurements of turbidity and automated sampling using equipment that collects water samples to be analyzed for suspended solids by a laboratory. However, turbidity measurements are not specific to types of particles encountered, and automated samplers require labor during storms and for laboratory analysis. A novel 20 MHz acoustics device under development by the National Center for Physical Acoustics can monitor suspended sediments continuously with minimal labor. This proposal describes research activities to further develop this device and apply it to relevant impaired streams; educational activities to educate students on water quality and instrumentation; and technology transfer activities to have the device used by interested parties. The device will be calibrated in the laboratory against relevant particles and will be installed in impaired Mississippi streams for data collection. Traditional suspended sediment measurements will be performed and compared to the device readings. These activities are intended to provide improved temporal and spatial monitoring of fine sediments and potentially track sources of sediments, silts, and other pollutants associated with fine particles. The principal use of funds from the federal portion of the MWRRI grant will be to fund a graduate student to use the device and work with collaborators on analyzing data from impaired streams. Matching funds will cover investigator salaries and indirect costs. The Federal Bureau of Reclamation has expressed interest in the project, as well as MDEQ, with the latter noting “numerous opportunities to collaborate and leverage resources with this project.”