On March 29, the crew of SoundGuardian, King County’s marine research vessel, re-deployed a water quality buoy that got loose earlier in the month at Point Williams, off Lincoln Park in West Seattle. In this video, watch Jim Devereaux, Bob Kruger, Houston Flores, and Christopher Barnes from the King County Environmental Laboratory re-anchor the buoy.
The Point Williams buoy is one of four automated, high-frequency data collection systems used by King County in marine waters and is the only floating platform — with the other three attached to piers or docks at Seattle Aquarium and inner and outer Quartermaster Harbor on Vashon-Maury Island. King County began using automated systems back in 2008 but the Point Williams buoy has been at the current location since 2013.
The buoy functions as a platform to suspend multiple instruments into the top of the water column to take measurements that determine water quality in the Central Puget Sound basin. Automated, water quality data collection allows measurements to be taken every 15 minutes of physical, chemical, and biological parameters. The result is improved information to determine variability on a weekly, even daily, basis compared to traditional water quality measurements that are typically measured every two to four weeks.
The data are transmitted via a cellular modem to a cloud data collection service, then transferred to the King County mooring data website where it can be viewed or downloaded within 30 minutes of data collection. Data undergo automatic quality checks to assess for issues in real-time as well as semi-annually by a data manager.
The data are used to characterize Puget Sound water conditions on numerous time scales (e.g., daily, seasonal, annual, inter-annual) and used for status and trends analysis, to compare with data from other locations in Puget Sound to assess spatial differences, populate or validate numerical Puget Sound models, and provide data for management decisions. The data from this water quality monitoring system are also sent to Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems to be included in a larger marine waters data collection network.
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