In southwest Kentucky, the town of Smithland isn’t home to many people. Its population as of 2010 barely broke 300, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But nevertheless, it is the namesake of a prominent dam operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Ohio River: Smithland Locks and Dam.

This dam has for decades been used by the Army Corps as a portal for barge and shipping traffic up and down the Ohio River. In 2010, the Corps helped to support a new purpose for the locks and dam proposed by American Municipal Power (AMP) Ohio. The energy company broke ground on a new hydropower installation at Smithland in that year, and construction continued through 2015.

Once the work to build the new hydropower installation is done, project managers at AMP Ohio want to make sure that power production can begin as soon as possible. Getting there requires a solid understanding of how the Ohio River’s temperature and dissolved oxygen levels, two parameters important for the survival of aquatic life, behaved naturally before the presence of the hydropower plant.

This means that well before completing the installation, AMP Ohio managers needed to track dissolved oxygen and water temperature levels to have a long-term dataset for comparison to data gathered in the future. AMP Ohio officials worked with NexSens Technology to source the equipment needed for monitoring, including data loggers, sensors and web datacenter services.

Augmented data for Ohio dams

To keep tabs on conditions around the dam, AMP Ohio officials purchased two NexSens 3100-MAST Data Loggers. Each is powered by solar panels and equipped with cellular telemetry for wireless data transmission to operators at the dam as measurements come in.

One logger is deployed upstream of the Smithland Locks and Dam. Connected to this and mounted in a protective pipe in the Ohio River is a PONSEL DIGISENS Optical Dissolved Oxygen Sensor. The sensor uses optical technology for improved performance and reduced maintenance and features an integrated temperature sensor to track Ohio River temperatures as well as dissolved oxygen. It also stores calibration data internally so that technicians can easily calibrate the probe using field computers during maintenance visits.

Another station is deployed downstream of the dam, where a second NexSens 3100-MAST and PONSEL DIGISENS Optical DO Sensor work together to capture the Ohio River’s temperature and dissolved oxygen levels continuously.

Taken together, data from the two loggers are sent to those involved with the project in real time via cellular telemetry. They are then published to a private WQData LIVE web datacenter where managers view them from anywhere with an Internet connection via a secure login.

Top image: Courtesy of American Municipal Power


X2 Environmental Data Logger (MAST-mounted)

The NexSens X2 Environmental Data Logger offers the latest in real-time monitoring technology with wireless communication, large plug-and-play sensor library, and ultra-low power consumption.

NexSens MAST Aluminum Mounting Pole

The MAST is a 2″ NPT aluminum pipe assembly designed for mounting an X2 data logger and SP-Series solar power pack for quick deployment.

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.