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Balloon Platforms for Remote Sensing of Water Quality in Mixing Zones

Award Information
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Branch: N/A
Contract: EP-D-06-049
Agency Tracking Number: EP-D-06-049
Amount: $69,993.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: N/A
Award Year: 2006
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): N/A
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
1033 SW Yamhill Street Suite 301
Portland, OR 97205
United States
DUNS: 114869147
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Robert Doneker
 (503) 222-1022
Business Contact
 Robert Doneker
Title: President
Phone: (503) 222-1022
Research Institution

We hypothesize that lightweight infrared (IR) and video cameras mounted on a unmanned tethered helium balloon and accessed via a wireless network can remotely sense water quality at site scales. We will demonstrate the technical feasibility of a ground based network to monitor and control balloon mounted IP-enabled wireless IR and video cameras for measurement of the spatial distribution of surface water temperature within the mixing zone. The mixing zone is the area where the initial dilution of a point source discharge occurs. This technology has immediate application to provide geospatial data for regulatory management and simulation model development and validation. Mixing zones are an important component of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) point source discharge permitting process within Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) water quality management programs. We will focus on mixing zones in river, where vertical mixing of point source discharges is rapid but may exhibit long downstream distances for full lateral mixing. We will integrate existing technology to demonstrate the rapid deployment of small balloon-mounted detectors to monitor mixing zones of industrial discharges. Q balloon has a number of advantages over existing platform for remote sensing of water quality. Existing platforms for remote sensing of water temperature at the site scale have limited availability, high costs, and long lead times to schedule deployment. The cost of a balloon platform is like to be /13 to 1/10 the cost of the fixed-wing and helicopter alternatives, respectively. In addition a low-cost balloon platform could be deployed by 1-2 people with minimal operator training on short notice and would be suitable for monitoring at fixed location for longer time periods than is practical for current airborne sensors. Although water temperature is an important TMDL parameter in itself, temperature can often be used as a ¿tracer¿ to indicate the dilution and spatial distribution of other important TMDL water quality parameters (e.g. sediment, coliform) which may occur within a mixing zone. Thus although we will focus only on detecting temperature as a water quality parameter, the potential of this technology to monitor the fate and transport of other discharge constituents may be much more widespread, e.g. shoreline recreational exposure to pathogens form wastewater discharges, determination of spatial extent of contaminated sediment deposits form mining operations, detecting the impacts of contaminated groundwater interaction within in groundwater/surface recharge zones, and analysis of thermal refugia habitat for endangered species management.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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