GREON Progress Continues

Article by: Louise Jett,
ALTON – After launching in 2014, The National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠) is continuing to progress with work the Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network (GREON℠).
GREON℠ is a near real-time water quality monitoring network, which consists of buoys with onboard instruments that take water quality measurements hourly. In 2014 a short testing deployment occurred for several weeks.
“We learned a lot from our short deployment of these buoys in a Mississippi River backwater last fall,” said Ted Kratschmer, Field Station Manager. “A major portion of the work is behind the scenes, selecting locations, and getting the proper permissions and permits approved. Once the buoys were in the water, the maintenance was minimal, other than calibration every few weeks.”
NGRREC℠ currently has seven of these platforms that will be deployed in 2015, and work is taking place this winter and spring to ensure that each of the buoys are ready to be in the water early this spring.
Working with partners at the US Geological Survey Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center and the Missouri Department of Conservation, NGRREC℠ will deploy buoys on the Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Alton, Illinois; LaCrosse, Wisconsin; and on the Sangamon River in Illinois. These locations were chosen with the assistance of a Science Advisory Committee made up of experts in water quality and Mississippi River issues.
GREO℠ gives NGRREC℠ scientists an improved ability to detect trends and evaluate management actions while developing a better understanding of the ecology of rivers. Once the network is established, scientists will be able to compare and contrast conditions in rivers and provide information on pressing issues such as nutrient and sediment loading.
The data that is collected by the GREON℠ program will be compiled on the Great Lakes to Gulf Observatory, a geospatial web application that is being developed by NGRREC℠ and the National Center for Super Computing Applications at the University of Illinois. The data will be updated hourly, on this site, which will also host publicly available data from many other sources in the Mississippi River Watershed. This site will launch in the first quarter 2015.
In subsequent years, NGRREC℠ aspires to acquire and deploy several more buoys on the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including in locations on the lower reaches of the river. In the longer term, the vision for GREON is to have a worldwide network of real-time water quality monitoring platforms.
Work on the GREON and Great Lakes to Gulf Programs are funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation.

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