In what may be the most sophisticated real-time monitoring of groundwater, University of Cincinnati researchers are studying changes in water quality, vegetation and greenhouses gases in the Great Miami River Watershed.
UC scientists have beefed up a 2017 water observation site with sensors and electrodes on the banks of the Great Miami River in Western Hamilton County. They hope to learn more about how rivers influence underground sources of drinking water. WVXU first told you about the site in 2017. Now it has even more technology.
What they learn could help government regulators protect your drinking water and the water of some 45 million Americans who rely on similar river-fed aquifers.
UC Hydrogeologist Reza Soltanian leads the project with six monitoring wells at depths of 30 to 90 feet. There are also 8 new sampling sites at different depths.
He says, "Potentially we're trying to monitor all the chemicals coming from the Great Miami Valley Watershed that drain into the Ohio River over time."
So far he hasn't found any elevated chemical levels but with real-time monitoring (even during a flood) Soltanian wants to be ready in case of wastewater treatment events or a possible spill upstream.
Post-doctoral student Corey Wallace is also working on the project, armed with a grant from the National Science Foundation. He's focusing on nitrous oxide. "Which is a greenhouse gas which we're trying to figure out ways to mitigate these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
Wallace has installed oxidation reduction sensors as part of his grant. They tell the state of the chemistry in the ground.
"This is kind of like a flagship site. This is something that we can kind of give proof and show the capabilities of all of these different sensors and technologies," says Wallace. "Our hope would be that they could take this same sort of infrastructure and apply it to other critical zones around the country."
UC has partnered with Duke Energy, the Miami Conservancy District and Great Parks of Hamilton County for this project.