What may come as a surprise is that man-made solar salt evaporation ponds, including those that already exist near Onslow, Port Hedland and Dampier also provide an important habitat forRead more
Live-data monitoring to provide insights to impact of rain
Insights to impact of rain, flooding on surface water
Scientists are measuring how rainfall and flooding affects the low-lying areas south of Onslow, with real-time surface water monitoring equipment installed on the proposed Ashburton Salt site.
The monitoring equipment includes surface water monitoring stations at three separate locations, as well as a weather station, to monitor rainfall and impacts on surrounding water surface levels and flows.
The monitoring is part of the environmental impact studies being conducted by K+S Salt Australia, supported by Senior Scientist Deirdre Kelly and the team at Water Technology.
Ms Kelly explained the project is particularly innovative as this type of testing is usually conducted manually.
“Our team has designed this project so the data comes in live via satellite direct to the Perth offices, giving real-time updates to us here,” she said.
Ms Kelly added that real-time monitoring is important as it allows for faster turnarounds when it comes to writing reports and performing analysis and identifies any equipment issues on the spot which avoids losing data during the wet season.
“It is exciting because the remote location of the project initially made it tricky to assess how we’d undertake such significant studies, however with some persistence we have overcome the issues of remoteness and limited physical access to the site.”
Poor mobile phone reception and limited access to 3G networks has also been an issue for Ms Kelly and her team to overcome in order to achieve live uploads of data to satellite networks.
However, a partnership with technology consultancy SimplyCity means monitoring sites don’t require 3G to communicate to the satellite.
“We recently received data on the rain activity from Cyclone Damien in the upper catchment which we will be analysing in the coming days. We need this data to confirm that the modelling we have designed for the project operates how we need it to,” said Ms Kelly.
K+S Salt Australia Managing Director Gerrit Gödecke is excited to be working with Water Technology and using cutting-edge technology to assist with environmental studies.
“Ensuring that everything we do leaves minimal impact on the environment is what we have been focusing on throughout these studies.
“By establishing the monitoring stations with digital telemetry coming direct via satellite to Perth, we are eliminating manual collection of data on these sites and ensuring faster and more accurate results,” said Mr Gödecke.
The monitoring of the surrounding surface water systems and rainfall will continue throughout the project and into the future. This will provide insightful data on weather patterns and surface water dynamics that will be important for the project impact assessment and also benefit the broader scientific understanding of the region.