Scour Monitoring System

Naturally, sediment is transported and shaped by the movement of water through the environment. Bridges and piers that are constructed in waterways rely on stable sediment for structural integrity, which can be compromised by scouring. Scour monitoring systems can alert the appropriate people when levels of scour reach a point that structural damage can occur.

In a typical scour monitoring system, a sonar depth sensor is mounted to an arm on the vertical structure. Using an X2 data logger, scour data is collected at predefined intervals and transmitted via radio, cellular or satellite telemetry to WQData LIVE. There, scour alerts can be set on user-defined thresholds and sent via email or text message.

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Case Studies


Bridge Scour Monitoring

Proper bridge design depends on many factors, including accurate estimates of expected scour around bridge piers and abutments. As water passes through a constricted bridge opening, local accelerations cause scour, and the design of the bridge must account for it. Scour prediction models, however, contain a large amount of uncertainty due to the complexity of the physical processes at work. This is generally accounted for by overestimating expected scour depth to ensure the safety of the bridge. While overestimating scour depth is necessary for safety, it increases the cost of bridge construction. In an effort to reduce uncertainty associated with scour prediction models, the Michigan Department of Transportation awarded a research grant to Wayne State University and Lawrence Technological University to collect field-scale data related to pier scour.

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Ohio River Biology Field Station

With its position along the Ohio River, the Thomas More College Biology Field Station is in a prime spot to advance education and research on the waterway. Some of the things under study there include fathead minnows and asiatic clams, as well as the river’s toxicity. Key to advancing scientific education at the field station is communicating science in interesting and relatable ways. That’s why officials there decided to install a flat-screen television in the main entrance to better connect with the many students and visitors it receives each year. The large-screen TV was set up to display data collected by new meteorological equipment installed on a footbridge connected to the field station, as well as findings from multi-parameter water quality sondes in the station’s fish tanks and the Ohio River.

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Tracking Flow For Hydropower

The Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) is a large energy provider in the state of Indiana. It provides power to more than a million customers through distributing energy derived from natural gas and hydropower dams. As part of achieving its mission to provide reliable energy to its customers, officials at the company have to be aware of changing flow rates near its hydropower assets. The real-time calculations are necessary for keeping plant managers up to speed on factors that could influence hydropower output.

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