Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018ID220B

The Coeur d’Alene Catfish: An autonomous underwater drone for deep-water lake research.

Institute: Idaho
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $12,666 Total Non-Federal Funds: $25,333

Principal Investigators: Alan Kolok, John Shovic

Project Summary: The objective of this study is to develop a submarine drone, the Coeur d’Alene Catfish, that will be able to autonomously conduct underwater surveys in which it will continuously sample for a number of water quality variables, including: geospatial location, dissolved oxygen, pH, water temperature and depth. Using the drone, we will be able to satisify the following two aims: 1: Characterize, the extent of the summertime, hypoxic hypolimnion in Lake Coeur d’Alene, by monitoring DO, temperature and turbidity at different depths and specific geographical locations within the lake, and 2: evaluate the three dimensional volume of the hypolimnion of the lake and then evaluate how that volume changes over the course of the summer. Results from this study will be valuable to key stakeholders that have a vested interest in the Lake Coeur d’Alene, as the drone will allow us to map the depth, breadth and extent of the anoxic hypolimnion over the course of the summer 2018. This is vitally important to the environmental state of the lake, as the oxic state of the hypolimnion determines whether toxic metal ions that are currently associated with the sediment remain sequestered (which would occur under oxic conditions) or wether they resolubilize into the water column (which would occur under anoxic condiditions). Given that Lake Coeur d’Alene sediments are metal rich (estimates suggest up to 75 million tons of metal enriched sediments occur at the bottom of the lake), it is essential that the contaminated sediments remain capped and incapable of mobilization. A quantitative understanding of the development of the anoxic hypolimnion is an essential component relative to managing the metals within Lake Coeur d’Alene. The Couer d’Alene Catfish will provide us with the instrumentation that will allow these data to be efficiently collected.