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Monitoring Flow Rate in a Channel to Minimize Water Pollution

Cost-Effective Environmental Monitoring

Recently a wastewater management district in Cleveland contacted CAS DataLoggers to supply an automated monitoring solution for monitoring flow rate in a channel in their environmental project. In most cities, sanitary sewers and storm sewers were separate, so that storm water was diverted into a nearby lake. However, Cleveland had only one sewer available, so all of the flow went to the sewage treatment plant. Consequently, in times of heavy rainfall, the plant was not equipped to handle the deluge, so the sewage emptied into the lake. Therefore, to minimize this water pollution through better tunnel planning, the district needed to measure the flow rate in a water channel and into the tunnels. Workers needed an all-in-one system which could continually monitor the channel’s water levels and support convenient USB data collection since Ethernet connection could not be maintained and the device would be moved too often to make RS-232 communication feasible.

Personnel installed a dataTaker DT82E Intelligent Environmental Data Logger down a manhole, mounted to a bracket on the sewer wall in a waterproof enclosure also provided by CAS DataLoggers. One of the dataTaker’s inputs was connected to an ultrasonic height sensor using a 4-20mA output to measure the water height in the channel as the water flowed to a certain height. A rain gauge was also hooked up to an automatic weather station which was then connected to the environmental data logger, using a pulse for every hundredth of an inch of precipitation. Along with the water level data gathered from the ultrasonic height sensor, the data from the rain gauge enabled users to get an indication of the channel’s flow rate.

Designed to handle environmental monitoring applications, the dataTaker had a robust functionality and operated using low power consumption. The DT82E model featured 2 to 6 universal analog sensor channels supporting many analog sensor types. The logger also featured 4 bi-directional digital channels, 4 high-speed counter channels, and an SDI-12 channel. Data from the ultrasonic height sensor and the rain gauge were collected via monthly USB retrieval.

User-friendly software was included with the dataTaker in the form of the built-in dEX graphical interface. The data logger’s software also included a built-in Web Server and FTP. Data transmission was simple–users just grabbed a USB stick once a month. Once collected, the data was extensively analyzed using the software’s advanced mathematical capabilities.

The wastewater management district benefited significantly following installation of the dataTaker DT82E data logger. The dataTaker’s flexible measurement capability and additional functionality proved cost-effective–using this single solution, operators were able to measure both the 4-20mA output from the ultrasonic height sensor and also connect to the automatic weather station reading the rain gauge. This enabled the district to determine the channel’s flow rate at high accuracy, view the time between rainfalls, and document the extent of the subsequent changes in the channel’s water level. This data gave users an idea of water distribution in the system which subsequently helped with blockages and restrictions in the sewer pipes, which aided in choosing optimal tunnel locations and minimizing water pollution.