Protecting and Restoring the Morro Bay Estuary.

Where is the water? Tracking water in our creeks

Where is the water? Tracking water in our creeks

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

 

 

Measuring the water level in local creeks gives us valuable data. We collect this data with pressure transducers.

The pressure transducer looks simple, but it provides important data that would be very difficult to collect by hand.

The pressure transducer looks simple, but it provides important data that would be very difficult to collect by hand.

A pressure transducer is a water-level measuring device that we install by submerging it in the creek. It continuously measures the pressure of the water pushing down on it and converts it into a height measurement. These instruments can collect data for months or even years.

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

While pressure transducers and other automated equipment collect important data, much of our long-term dataset is collected by hand. Volunteers measure water quality each month by going out to creek or bay sites with equipment in hand. They take note of things like water temperature, dissolved oxygen content, and other measures that indicate creek health.

Pressure transducers can be used in a wide range of applications, from weather stations, to flood control, to tracking reservoir water levels. We use these devices in our local creek systems to estimate how much water is present. This data can tell us whether a project is impacting water levels in a creek, or which stretch of creek goes dry and might merit further attention. The Estuary Program has six pressure transducer monitoring stations located throughout the watershed.

One of the current projects we are monitoring is a rainwater harvesting system on Pennington Creek. We partnered with Cal Poly, the California Conservation Corps, and many other organizations to install a system of gutters, piping, and pumps that collects rainwater from nearby rooftops and stores it in large tanks. During the dry summer months, Cal Poly fills cattle troughs with this captured rainwater, rather than with water pumped from nearby wells. When those wells are pumped, they can decrease the water levels in the creek, leaving less for the fish. A series of pressure transducers in the creek is helping us assess the impacts on water levels when these rainwater tanks are used in place of the wells to supply water to cattle.

The four water-collection tanks on Cal Poly property can supply water for ranching operations during the summer, so that less water needs to be pumped from wells near Pennington Creek.

The four water-collection tanks on Cal Poly property can supply water for ranching operations during the summer, so that less water needs to be pumped from wells near Pennington Creek.

High quality data is essential to the Estuary Program and our partners in our efforts to protect and restore Morro Bay. Pressure transducers are one tool in our kit that helps us achieve these goals.

Stay tuned for pressure transducer data in the future.


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