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Water Quality in the Mississippi Basin

A resilient method for monitoring water quality and nitrate levels in the harsh aquatic environment of the Mississippi River was required by the University of Iowa -IIHR. The monitoring of continually accurate water quality data was important for analysis  in conjunction with the diurnal mussel study of the University of Iowa. They Hydrolab DS5X was shown to be a viable solution for this study.

Project Description pdf Download

  • Agricultural runoff from the Mississippi River Basin significantly disturbs the river’s natural aquatic nitrogen cycle, eventually leading to hypoxic dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico
  • The University of Iowa IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering has undertaken the task of studying how the nitrogen cycle is affected by human and climate induced influences
  • Researchers at IIHR decided to use freshwater mussels as a sentinel species to study in relation to the disruption of the nitrogen cycle and in addition to their water quality monitoring
  • A study site was selected within Pool 16 of the Mississippi River, a section spanning from Rock Island, IL, to Muscatine, IA
  • Monitoring water over extended periods of time in this section of the Mississippi can be difficult due to build-up of aquatic sediments and zebra mussels on instruments
  • Six sensor clusters were deployed in Pool 16 with the Hydrolab DS5X multiparameter sonde and Hach Nitratax nitrate sensor
  • The Hydrolab DS5X is a multiparameter sonde designed for long term deployment in aquatic environments
  • The Hach Nitratax sensor accurately measures nitrate levels by continuously measuring UV light absorbed by nitrates
  • Water quality and nitrate data was transmitted to dataloggers from the sensor clusters every 15 minutes
  • Data was regularly analyzed in conjunction with information gathered from the freshwater mussel beds
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