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Many years ago, coal mining in the US created conditions that now produce acid rain. How can we help fix this and make an environment more friendly for fish and wildlife? One solution is to bury limestone at the headwaters of streams and see how that affects water quality factors like pH. However, once the environment is modified then how will we know whether there has been an improvement in water quality?

Luckily, it’s easy to do remote water quality monitoring with Valarm Tools Cloud. Last week we did a rapid deployment of solar-powered Valarm remote monitoring units in Pennsylvania streams. These units do telemetry for various water quality factors:

  • pH
  • Conductivity
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
  • Salinity
  • Specific Gravity (SG)

Remote sensor data is available in real-time via a web browser and Valarm Tools Cloud – tools.valarm.net. The screenshot below from tools.valarm.net shows a graph of values from the water pH probe where the stream pH is averaging around 5.0 pH, slightly acidic. All telemetry data collected with a Valarm system is available for analysis and visualization in your endpoints and analytics systems via Valarm’s APIs like JSON.

For this water quality monitoring we used this key hardware to get remote sensor data to Valarm Tools Cloud:

  • Ethernet sensor hubs connected to a cell network modem or long-range WiFi antenna like Ubiquiti, MicroTik, or TP-LINK
  • Serial sensor adapters connected to Atlas Scientific water quality probes for pH, conductivity, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), salinity, Specific Gravity (SG)
  • Solar power systems – solar panels, Morningstar solar charge controllers, deep cycle marine lead acid batteries

The smaller Valarm box in this deployment has the sensor hub, sensor adapters, and water quality probes. This smaller box connects to the bigger box via Cat5 PoE (Power over Ethernet) cable. The larger box has the solar panel, power, and communications that simply provide the sensor hub in the smaller box with a DHCP IP address and internet connectivity for uploading sensor data to Valarm Tools Cloud.

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Remote Water Quality Monitoring with Valarm

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Mounting the communications and power box with a solar panel and long range WiFi antenna.

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Making wire screens to protect water quality sensor probes / catch minnies / minnow fish

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Deploying the water quality sensor probes in the stream to monitor pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), and specific gravity (SG)

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Lessons learned:

  • How to build wire cages to catch minnies / minnows in the crick / creek!
  • Wear chaps or else run really fast when you feel something rattling under your foot while walking through the Pennsylvania meadows in August. My heart was racing after this step and run, probably a snake although I didn’t stick around to find out. 🙂
  • MAX EMC epoxy is awesome for weatherproofing Valarm boxes with sensors that don’t fit through cables glands, such as the water quality sensors with BNC cables used here.

These were really fun deployments in beautiful, remote locations! In the near future we’ll be deploying many more Valarm units for monitoring water quality in streams, rivers, and other sites. For more on water and fluid monitoring see Valarm deployments for:

See our customer stories page for more on Valarm monitoring and sensor solutions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!