The small device in the center of this photo is called a sonde. Sondes measure water temperature and oxygen levels over significant periods of time to determine water health.

Not every fishing boat you see on the water holds anglers – they could be engineers or scientists!

That boat could be a Lawson-Fisher Associates’ monitoring craft checking the health of water in your area.

Water quality monitoring is conducted for various purposes.  One such reason is complying with terms of a Water Quality Certificate.  Facilities that produce hydroelectric power are required to obtain a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and, as part of that, are required to obtain a Water Quality Certification (WQC) under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act.  Conditions of the WQC may require seasonal monitoring of water quality parameters such as temperature and dissolved oxygen upstream and downstream of the hydroelectric facility.

Devices known as “sondes” are deployed during the warmest, driest months of the year in order to continuously record the required water quality data in the waterbody of interest.  In an effort to ensure that the sondes are recording quality data, LFA personnel conduct site visits on a regular interval to download the data and calibrate the equipment.  Water and sediment samples may also be collected for further analysis at a laboratory.

The next time you see people out in a fishing boat, consider instead  that efforts to assess the health of the waterway may be occurring before your eyes.