Over the course of this past month, we have been talking about various ways to tackle the common issue – biofouling on water quality instrumentation. Today, we share our final tip in this series, tip #7.
Using a combination of our suggestions, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the frequency at which your team must travel to field sites to clean and maintain sondes and water quality sensors.
Use Telemetry to Keep an Eye on Your Field Site.
A lot of monitoring organizations don’t take advantage of using telemetry systems at their field sites. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case, however the ability to view your sondes’ live data set is a huge advantage when fighting fouling.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Telemetry, water quality sondes can be connected to data loggers with the ability to wirelessly communicate data to a web portal or online database. This is what we call telemetered data.
With access to your field sites’ data at your fingertips on a smart phone or computer, you can let the instruments’ inform you of when maintenance may be necessary.
If you regularly review your data, you should know historically when certain parameters appear to be impacted by sensor fouling. Generally, you’ll start to notice large, unresolved spikes in optical sensors and conductivity data will start to drift downward.
The idea is to use the live data to drive the frequency of your maintenance visits to a site.
The intensity of sensor fouling is often highly dependent on seasons and weather patterns, so having a strict policy of servicing field sites on a weekly or bi-weekly basis may not make sense year round. In general, the higher the temperature and salinity of the water, the more organic fouling will be an issue for your equipment.
On the other hand, for field sites that have difficulties with sediment fouling sensors, seasons with higher rainfall will be more problematic.
Take advantage of telemetry and a live view of your sonde data to help you decide whether or not it’s necessary to spend your time, energy, and resources to head out into the field.
Ultimately, if you’re using sondes to collect water quality data autonomously – it’s almost inevitable that you will run into issues with sensor fouling. That’s a part of the job.
We hope this 7 part series has been useful to you, we want to save you a headache, so to summarize the major points made over the past few weeks:
- In harsh environments, consider using anti-fouling paints to deter heavy biological growth
- When available, always use copper components and accessories on your instruments as a passive anti-fouling approach
- Where possible, use anti-fouling wipers to keep all sensing surfaces clean to ensure you’re collecting the highest quality data
- Keep an eye out for new technology from sensor manufacturers. New products like EXO’s Wiped Conductivity probe can help protect your data and extend your maintenance intervals.
- Always take care of your sonde and it will take care of you. Make field visits count by properly cleaning and caring for your instrument.
- Don’t focus exclusively on your sonde. Maintain the site infrastructure too!
- Lastly, use telemetry systems to get a live view of your data. This gives you the transparency to know whether or not a field visit is necessary to begin with.
Some of these suggestions require certain accessories or new probes. Don’t be intimidated by the cost of these items. Often times they’ll pay for themselves in no time by saving your team thousands of dollars in wasted field trips. If your field sites are remote, they might even pay for themselves in cost savings from a single prevented visit.
If you can extend maintenance intervals on your equipment from once a week to once a month, imagine the savings. This money could be better spent elsewhere on more productive work.
A huge thank you to YSI Product Manager, Brandon Smith, YSI Marketing Specialist, Patrick Beatty, YSI Technical Support Team Lead, Tom Moeggenberg and YSI Application Engineer, Tiffany Shirmer for providing the information found in this post.
Additional Blog Posts of Interest:
7 Tips to Fight Fouling and Extend Sonde Deployments | Tip #6
7 Tips to Fight Fouling and Extend Sonde Deployments | Tip #5
7 Tips to Fight Fouling and Extend Sonde Deployments | Tip #4
7 Tips to Fight Fouling and Extend Sonde Deployments | Tip #3