Libelium’s technology helps protect mussels in the Ohio River
U.S. firm Aridea Solutions has selected the Spanish firm to deploy sensors for mussel protection
Spanish wireless sensor maker Libelium is currently involved in a smart water project in the Ohio river, with the main aim of protecting mussels.
The Ohio river is home to populations of various species of mussels that are essential to the ecosystem. Freshwater mussels are not only an important food source for muskrats, waterfowl and fish but are also very important water quality indicators.
Aridea Solutions, an engineering company located in West Virginia, has selected Libelium’s technology to assist in the development of the WIZARD (Water Intrinsic Zoological Ambient Research Device) Platform. The American company worked in October 2016 on a project for the US Army Corps of Engineers at Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam to control mussels’ ambient and environmental conditions. The aim was to protect them when working in local rivers and streams.
Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam is the 10th of its kind on the Ohio River, located on the border of Ohio and West Virginia. There are 4 locks: one for the commercial barge traffic that is 1,200 feet long by 110 feet wide, an auxiliary lock that is 600 feet long by 110 feet wide, and 2 smaller parallel locks. As with all navigable locks, RCB requires dredging operations to keep the navigation channels open and operable.
With an average of nearly 90,000 cubic yards of dredging material annually, channel maintenance needs at RC Byrd Locks and Dam far exceed average Ohio River navigation projects. Due to significant sedimentation below the project, presence of endangered mussels, and the importance of the RC Byrd navigation mission, dredging and disposal operations at RC Byrd require continuous scrutiny in order to best meet objectives.
The involved companies explained that intense monitoring of environmental factors downstream of the dredge disposal and adjacent to the valuable mussel bed includes turbidity, sedimentation, and dissolved oxygen. It provides real-time data transmissions to the District in order to control water conditions that could affect the mussels.
“Libelium allows rapid solution implementation with its compatibility to a wide range of industrial protocols. It also provides an excellent library of code examples allowing maximum flexibility in engineering solutions for our clients“, affirms Rob Moore, director of engineering at Aridea Solutions.
The main goal of the project has been to monitor and minimize the effects of dredging activities on the local mussel populations. For this reason, Aridea has delivered a field deployable sediment deposition and scour platform capable of recording and sending data at a minimum of 5 minute intervals.
For the protection of mussels, the gates on RC Byrd Locks and Dam are now being used in ways never intended, by steering the currents created by alternative gate operations to direct sediment away from the mussel beds.
“These innovations have been well received by our partners in other State and Federal Resource Agencies and have allowed the District to continue cost effective in-water disposal operations”, Steve Foster, Limnologist at US Army Corps of Engineers, has pointed out.