Automated, high-frequency, water quality data collection systems allow continuous
measurements of physical, chemical, and biological water quality parameters as well
as meteorological parameters. The data generated by these systems allow users to
characterize temporal and spatial variability for multiple parameters over numerous
scales (e.g., daily, seasonal, annual, inter-annual). The data can also be used to
establish baseline conditions, populate numerical models, and provide data for
management decisions. Advances in automated sampling and sensor technology make
automated data collection an integral part of water quality monitoring programs.
In addition, automated data collection systems create collaborative opportunities
for multiple entities working together to characterize a large waterbody.
The high-quality data collected by King County through its routine marine
monitoring program have provided insight into natural variability and
long-term trends in Puget Sound water quality. The frequency of monthly sampling,
however, does not adequately capture the high variability in, and the relationships
between, marine water quality parameters. King County partnered with the Seattle
Aquarium in November 2007 to deploy its first high-frequency, real-time, marine
water quality data collection system in Elliott Bay. Since that time, three additional
systems have been deployed: a piling-mounted system at Dockton Park in inner
Quartermaster Harbor; a buoy-mounted system off Alki, and a piling-mounted system at
the Quartermaster Yacht Club, our monitoring partner.