Rapidly Advancing Technologies for Enhanced Water Quality Assessment
From Renae Siler
Rapidly advancing technologies using drones and quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) are quickly becoming essential tools for water quality assessment and preservation on inland lakes. Drones capture archivable footage on entire lake shorelines that can be mined to identify and catalog important features such as inlet pipes, seawalls, Cladophora, erosion, invasive plants, and even the number of 2- vs. 4-stroke outboard motors on the lake. Exact flight paths are recorded so replicate surveys can be conducted in subsequent years for comparison. The qPCR platform, currently being democratized in Michigan by scientists from the University of Alberta in collaboration with Freshwater Solutions, is currently being used to battle swimmer’s itch and test for human enteric bacteria in the water. Many other uses include detecting invasive or endangered species and monitoring for blue-green algal blooms. Like drone footage, water sample extracts can be archived for decades and used again for future assessments. Studies are underway combining both drone technology equipped with IR cameras and water samples assessed using qPCR to identify failing or overused septic systems.
Presented as part of the 2020 Michigan Inland Lakes Convention.