The Blue Ridge Water Coalition set out to calculate how much of a nutrient load the Blue Ridge watersheds were contributing to the Bay via the Shenandoah River. They purchased special equipment to supplement their monitoring.
The device we chose, made by Campbell Scientific, uses an underwater laser to take 21 readings in the space of 1/45 of a second. A connected computer uses these readings to calculate the average passing flow of sediment. The sensor is able to reliably distinguish biological material, such as algae or fish, from actual sediment to ensure more accurate readings, and it can be set to take readings as often as every 3 seconds. The data gained from this device will give us a better picture of how much of a nutrient load washes into the river during periods of heavy rain, allowing us a more accurate assessment of the actual TMDL at that point in the river.