Tasked with monitoring a watershed covering nearly 4,000 square miles, almost 2,300 miles of rivers and streams, and a huge aquifer that provides drinking water for more than 1.2 million people, water quality monitoring specialists at the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) in Dayton, Ohio, have their hands full.
The District – established in 1913 to protect Dayton from flooding – has grown into a multifaceted entity renowned for leadership in a wide variety of programs dedicated to managing, monitoring, conserving and educating the public about local water resources. Aggressive data gathering programs support dozens of District projects that address both surface water and groundwater, so both the quantity and quality of MCD's data points are vital.
Mike Ekberg, MCD's manager of water monitoring, envisions a program in which on-site readings for nitrate could screen for locations that merit more detailed, more expensive lab tests. With a full nitrogen lab workup – quantifying nitrate, nitrite, ammonia and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) – running $85 per sample, screening could save the District a substantial sum of money and help it focus its resources on key sites.