Water Quality Monitoring Project


About the Project

The Little River Conservancy has started a Citizen Science project on Experiment.com to improve water quality monitoring along the Little River. Nitrogen and phosphorus cause persistent algal blooms in the bay, but current monitoring of the waters feeding Biscayne Bay are insufficient. Two basins effecting seagrass loss will be targeted in this project, Little River and the Biscayne Canal. The goal is to expand the sensing network in an effort to help drive research, local decision making, and community action. All data will become open source.

What is the context of this research?

The August 2020 Fish kill hit Biscayne Bay, killing thousands of fish and hitting the ecosystem hard. I wanted to dig deeper but the data was insufficient.

We have known that nutrient pollution is slowly killing the bay since the 1970’s. Today water quality testing is also in the 1970’s, with monthly water quality tests of a dynamic system which sees changes every tide and rainfall event.

This consistent level of nutrient pollution has led to persistent algal blooms causing extreme seagrass die offs in Biscayne Bay.

New low cost sensor technology is making continual monitoring possible. These sensors allow the community to gain a deeper understanding of the current situation and direct action.

What is the significance of this project?

This project would be the first continual monitoring system of nutrient pollution and water quality measures for the waters entering Biscayne Bay. Continual monitoring creates a much more accurate data for a system where water moves continually especially with every tide and rainfall event.

This level of data is significant because it will help guide new research, social, and governmental action.

Currently, FIU has 4 sensors that test water quality continuously mainly focused on the bay itself. Adding more sensors to this network will give data to support the dynamic nature of the bay and its inflowing waterways.

These low cost sensors can dramatically increase the size of the network at 5-10% the traditional costs.

What are the goals of the project?

The goal of the project is to add a minimum of 3 sensors to the waters entering Biscayne Bay through the Little River and Biscayne Canals. The sensors will measure dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, nitrogen, phosphorus, and/or Chlorophyl A.

This project will generate a new stream of continual open data for citizens, communities, government, and scientists to take action, plan and execute long term projects, and more deeply understand how to care for our water ways.

When implemented this will support line 1B of the Biscayne Bay Task Force Report, which states: Develop, implement and continuously monitor and demonstrate progress toward meeting 1A’s pollutant load reduction goals and interim targets for surface and groundwater and linked biological recovery.