Aquatechnex Expands use of Remote Sensing for Lake Management

Blue Water Satellite Technology showing Chlorophyll a levels lakewide in this 3, 000 acre reservoir

Aquatechnex biologists have expanded the use of remote sensing technologies in our lake and aquatic plant management operations during the 2010 season.  We have completed two major projects helping clients faced with Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nutrients assess their situation and improve their monitoring technologies. 

Blue Water Satellite uses LANDSAT imagery and proprietary algorithms to focus on constituents in water or on land.  Chlorophyll a is often a measuring parameter agencies that manage lakes are forced to monitor and comply with levels set for the lake under the TMDL program.  Cyanobacteria or toxic blue green algae is also a problem worldwide, the presence of these species pose a health treat to humans.  Phosphorus and other constituents are also inputs that must be contained and monitored under these TMDL programs. 

The power of the Blue Water system is the ability to sample the entire lake surface area up to 4 times per month.  The system collects and analyzes the levels of the parameter within 1-2 ppb.  With over 5 sampling points per surface acre, a lake like this 3,000 acre system is sampled 15,000 times in one pass.  The resulting maps can show distribution and compliance percentages lakewide. 

In addition, as LANDSAT has been imaging the earth for about 25 years, we can go back and perform historical analysis and show change over time.  We have been able to plot yearly increases prior to TMDL establishment and reductions after.  We have also been able to look at historical periods where water quality standards were set and show actual conditions throughout a reservoir.  This has assisted some clients in understanding the real picture over time. 

This image is a phosphorus on land scan for a small portion of this reservoir's watershed. Yellow and orange areas have higher levels of phosphorus present. When overlayed on hydrology layers in GIS analysis, these can be prioritized for investigation and remediation where necessary

Blue Water can also look at entire watershed areas and determine hot spots that bear investigation.  This can effectively turn non point sources of phosphorus loading into known or highly suspected locations.  This image data can be moved into GIS software for analysis.  Adding hydrology layers to the analysis and looking at proximity of problem areas to water transport conveyance systems to the lake can identify areas that bear further investigation.  Very large watersheds can be reviewed very economically and the understanding that is developed can focus limited resources effectively.

Aquatechnex has also added a number of image processing tools to our aquatic plant mapping and management programs.  While our firm and team have used image processing to penetrate water, identify and define aquatic plant communities for a number of years, this technology has been expensive and beyond the financial capabilities of many clients.  ArcGIS 10 has a number of image processing tools now available to our analysts.  We also have a number of sources of multi spectral imagery sources.  Using image processing technologies and these new image processing tools we have built software tools to maximize water penetration, focus on submerged plant communities and chlorophyll bands to id vegetation and map the extent of these beds.  These GIS maps combined with field survey and our extensive understanding of the lake systems we manage, we can often create very effective high resolution maps showing coverage of invasive aquatic plant species.

If you would like information on how these technologies would help you manage your lakes, please contact us at http://aquatechnex.com/consult_request.html

2 replies
  1. Curtis McMillan
    Curtis McMillan says:

    Dude,

    I like this. Some guys in the field using that now for variable rate fertility. How is the crew? Have fun down under.

    Curtis

    Reply

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