By Helen Taylor, [email protected], (970) 498-1655

In-Situ Inc. has partnered with the City of Fort Collins and Colorado State
University to install nine water monitoring stations along the Poudre River. In-Situ equipment
at each site will continuously collect and transmit water quality data, which the city and CSU
will use to assess the river’s health and conduct research.

This unique partnership brings together the city’s stormwater and water quality Divisions within the utility department, CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, and In-Situ, an environmental monitoring equipment manufacturer headquartered in Fort Collins. At each monitoring station, an In-Situ Aqua TROLL 500 or Aqua TROLL 600 Multiparameter Sonde will collect data on temperature, turbidity, depth, pH/ORP, dissolved oxygen and conductivity, and relay the data via telemetry to HydroVu, In-Situ’s data services platform. While both the city and CSU have direct access to this live-streaming data, CSU will process and manage the raw data and share it with the city. In-Situ will provide ongoing
technical support to both the city and the university.

“We’re committed to helping agencies and municipalities get access to high-quality data, so they can be proactive in understanding and protecting water quality in their communities,” says In-Situ Application Development Manager Eric Robinson. “This is a model that can be replicated in other areas that are too small to warrant a sustained, USGS monitoring program, but have water resources critical to their environmental and economic

Since joining Warner’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability last year, Assistant Professor Matt Ross has had a keen interest in developing a research program around the Poudre, which he describes as a classic western river, faced with familiar challenges of fire, agricultural diversions, urban impacts, and drought.

He knew that long-term sensor deployments could produce high-quality data useful for trend analysis, immediate decision support, and as an educational tool.

“I’m interested in looking at impacts over time-frequency of low-flow years and anoxic events within those years; how turbidity is changing and where those changes are happening – but also building a decision-support system that can inform action that day or that week and help the city get out in front of water quality impacts,” says Ross. The city’s concern over the health of the Poudre River grew after a severe fish kill occurred in September 2018. Colorado Fish & Wildlife investigated the incident but was unable to identify a cause. With monitoring equipment now installed at points of confluence with local tributaries, it should be easier to identify a pollutant source should another incident

“This is great for us because we can get the information we need and use local resources,” says Fort Collins Stormwater Quality Engineer Basil Hamdan. “In-Situ has the equipment and technical expertise, CSU has the research piece, and they also manage the data, which we’re able to use to get a better understanding of what’s happening in the river.”
Hamdan adds that the monitoring data will also provide a baseline, should the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) be approved. The proposed water storage and distribution project, which includes the construction of two reservoirs north of Fort Collins, will divert water from the Poudre River and potentially affect water quality.

The Poudre monitoring project has no end date. In fact, the partners plan to install as many as 25 monitoring stations along the river and its tributaries and expand public outreach. Students will have access to the data through the university’s Environmental Learning Center, and the public will have opportunities to view and interact with it at various
locations throughout the city.

“My lab is not only focused on research and building processes to give the city clean data but also on making that data more accessible through visualizations and videos,” says Ross. “We want people to be able to see it and understand it.”

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