dam hydrology tracking Near the small town of Concrete, Washington, there’s a dam on the Lower Baker River holding back its water. The dam is owned by Puget Sound Energy, a company that delivers electric power and natural gas to customers in the U.S. Northwest.

For some time, the hydrology surrounding the dam has been of interest to engineers at the energy company who oversee its operations as part of a hydroelectric asset. In particular, they want to know how water moves in soils and rocks around the Lower Baker Dam.

To get at the answers to their questions, officials with the energy company contracted Tetra Tech, an environmental consultant, to devise a hydrology tracking solution. Tetra Tech turned to NexSens Technology for the equipment needed to get the job done.

Getting the job done

Nine NexSens Technology SDL Submersible Data Loggers were chosen for the project because of their suitability to logging in wet environments. Each came equipped with radio telemetry and was deployed at different sites around the dam in custom PVC racks built with the area’s terrain and conditions in mind.

Within each rack is space for an SDL, a battery pack and a Turner Designs C3 Submersible Fluorometer. Six of the racks were deployed along the banks of the river (three on each bank) on the side opposite of the reservoir, while one was deployed at the foot of the dam. Another two were set up at sites further downstream.

dam hydrology tracking

Different dyes, including rhodamine, fluorescein and PTSA are released at points around the dam’s reservoir. As water moves through the land surrounding the dam, the Turner Designs fluorometers pick up concentrations of the dyes in waters downstream. The information they collect is then sent via radio from the SDL loggers to a NexSens 4100-BASE Radio Base Station in a maintenance building just upstream of the Lower Baker Dam.

Within the maintenance building is a computer running NexSens iChart software that allows operation managers to view hydrology tracking data in real time. This computer also interfaces with WQData LIVE, a web datacenter that collects and shares environmental data, so that engineers can access the data through any device with internet access.


NexSens X2-SDL Submersible Data Logger

The X2-SDL Submersible Data Logger is a rugged, self-powered data logging system with optional cellular, satellite, or radio communications.

Turner Designs C3 Submersible Fluorometer

The Turner Designs C3 Submersible Fluorometer is designed to incorporate up to three optical sensors ranging from the ultraviolet to the infrared spectrum.

NexSens WQData LIVE Web Datacenter

WQData LIVE is a web-based project management service that allows users 24/7 instant access to data collected from remote telemetry systems.