The water subteam is currently working on a sensor to collect water quality data to better understand the cause of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Cayuga Lake. HABs consist of cyanobacteria that can produce toxins that threaten water usage for drinking and recreation. The goal of this project is to monitor water properties that may cause HABs. The data collected will be supplemented by satellite imagery in the detection of HABs in Cayuga Lake.
Current project: Harmful Algal Bloom sensor
The sensor is being modeled after the Smart Rock sensor, which measures water depth, temperature, turbidity, and salinity. The various sensors are assembled and placed inside of PVC and can then be submerged in a body of water. Once the sensor is complete, it will be tested at various points along Cayuga Lake with a focus on points where water enters the lake and where there has been a history of HABs. In the future, we hope to also use this sensor to measure nitrogen and phosphorus content, as well as dissolved oxygen levels, which are also possible causes of HABs.
Nevertheless, with the sensor currently under development, we still continue to monitor water quality data to identify HABs via both past and present trend analysis. In addition, software programs such as Google Earth and R (a programming language) will enhance our visual identification of HABs throughout Cayuga Lake.