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Protecting Drinking Water in Western Ohio with Technology

October 29, 2018

T&M’s Data Logger and Telemetry Design/Installation Project Monitors Groundwater.

A groundwater aquifer is a main drinking water source for many around the world. This holds true for a region in western Ohio which houses drinking water in one of these underground reservoirs. The aquifer stores 1.5 trillion gallons of groundwater and serves as the sole source of drinking water for 400,000 people.

Groundwater in the region is extremely susceptible to contamination at the surface. For this reason, the city where the aquifer resides established a Multi-Jurisdictional Source Water Protection Program (SWPP). The goal of the SWPP is to protect and preserve the groundwater resources that supply the area’s drinking water. In response to recent changes made in the SWPP, including a much larger protection area, the city needed to expand the existing early warning monitoring well network.

T&M was hired to design and install an early detection system to monitor water levels in the expanded area. The system ensures that the hydraulic control from the interceptor wells are maintained to protect the aquifer. The system consists of (30) monitoring wells, each of which has a pressure transducer to measure real-time water levels in the aquifer. The transducer is installed within the water column and transmits the water level to a data logger mounted adjacent to the well casing. The data logger and transducer are powered by a 6-watt solar panel and transmits the water level data wirelessly to a secure cloud storage site. T&M developed an innovative approach to transmit signals from subsurface well vaults. A wide-band spread spectrum antenna that mounts within the well vault lid creates a low-profile antenna which can be driven over, yet transmit the signal from within the vault to a nearby radio repeater. T&M also created a web-based graphic user interface to display the entire well system on a GIS aerial map to show real-time and historic water levels for each of the 30 wells in the network. If the transducer detects a water level outside of the specified range, the system will send an email and/or text message alarm to the city.

Source Water Protection is an environmental challenge which the city has successfully addressed with some help from T&M’s Automation and Water Teams – Rob Pfendler, Heidi Strobl and Dan Kekacs.