TRACKING TEMPERATURE: A SIGNIFICANT SOURCE OF WATER POLLUTION

Temperature doesn’t seem like such an influential parameter when it comes to ecosystem health and fish mortality. Nor does it seem like a particularly useful tool for finding and tracking other pollutant sources.

It doesn’t seem like it – but it is! In fact, rapid temperature increases in urban streams, usually resulting from stormwater runoff, can shock aquatic systems and kill fish very quickly (exclusive of the toxic brew coincident with first flush stormwater runoff). Over longer periods of time, higher-than-normal temperatures in lakes, rivers, and streams reduce dissolved oxygen, increase algal blooms, provide excellent growing conditions for pathogens, and, in the Northwest in particular, where cold-water fish flourish, increase fish mortality and reduce ecosystem diversity.

So what do we do about it? Right now, state and federal government agencies implement basic monitoring programs designed to evaluate which water bodies are impaired.

That’s an excellent first step. Monitoring temperature both in streams and upstream is a wonderful way to identify the outcome of warm runoff, but it doesn’t do much good if we can’t cost-effectively identify every area causing the highest impacts, and which solutions result in the greatest benefit. Considering the labor and equipment costs, it’s currently infeasible to capture continuous, comprehensive datasets across entire urban sewersheds.

That’s why we’re incredibly excited to develop a system that allows customers, from non-profits to municipalities and large industrial facilities, to capture flow and temperature data at a granular level, over large areas, and from within the stormwater systems, at an incredibly reasonable price.

This allows us to map both the volume and quality of water moving through our infrastructure, identify the most effective BMPs, and track key problem areas for prioritization, leading directly to marked improvements in water quality.

Just imagine moving from a 10-sensor approach to 100s of sensors, dramatically expanding our data collection capabilities and subsequent predictive analytics and intelligence along with it.

One day it will seem strange to push through serious issues like this with 10 monitoring stations covering 80 square miles of watershed. We are excited to get us there.

Resources:

  • https://www.epa.gov/heat-islands/heat-island-impacts
  • https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/1110024.pdf
  • http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/tmdl/TMDLsbyWria/TMDLbyWria.html

About the author

Erin Rothman

Stormwater Scientist

Talk stormwater with erin@stormsensor.io With more than 15 years of environmental consulting experience, Erin observed so many opportunities for innovation in the stormwater industry. With those in mind, she founded StormSensor to enthusiastically embrace new technology to help solve the problems of an age-old industry.