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South Ferry installs water testing technology

Thanks to support from the United States Geological Survey, the Peconic Estuary Partnership and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, South Ferry has new technology installed that will be able to monitor surrounding waters in multiple categories.

The sensing devices for USGS are located on a pole to the left of the flagpole and beyond a tall light pole, according to South Ferry President Cliff Clark. As of late last week, Mr. Clark said Monday, as far as he knows, the system was not yet operational since it wasn’t yet hooked up to phone lines. He is awaiting word from Councilman Jim Colligan on when the system will be fully operational.

South Ferry approved the installation with the proviso that the sponsoring organizations would use it as a teaching station for Island students. “We are letting them use the property at no cost other than to maintain the shed and equipment in serviceable and attractive condition,” Mr. Clark said.

The program involves installation of a quality monitor and/or an “acoustic velocity meter” that deals with the speed of data generated and distributed in a vulnerable area of the central Peconic Estuary.

The sensor, along with a self-contained wireless bridge is mounted several feet above the highest expected or recorded water level. The wireless bridge connects via a line-of-site radio to a data-collection platform. Together with all other electrical components, it’s mounted several feet above the 100-year coastal-flood elevation inside a reinforced shelter.

Tidal water-elevation data is to be recorded at six minute intervals, stored onsite, and then transmitted to the USGS offices using satellite and telephone telemetry.

An additional water quality monitor or “acoustic velocity meter” is secured to a stable pier along the channel margin on the east side of the terminal.

Water-quality data are to be collected and could include:

• Temperature

• Salinity

• Dissolved oxygen

• Acidity levels

• Cloudiness caused by suspended matter in the water

• Chlorophyll levels that track algal growth

• Phycoerythrin, a pigment present in red algae

• Cyanobacteria toxins, among the most hazardous substances found in water

• Nitrate levels that will affect fish growth

The new monitoring devices won applause from Water Advisory Committee Chairman Peter Grand, who called the installation of the equipment “fantastic.”