The mission of the Great Rivers Ecological Observatory Network (GREON) is to advance the understanding of large-floodplain river ecology by collecting and sharing high resolution data on key water quality parameters with scientists, managers, and the general public. NGRREC scientists utilize these monitoring stations to address specific research questions, and to provide a tool to inform policy and management decisions.
Developed by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) in 2013, the Great Rivers Ecological Observation Network (GREON) program has established a network of real-time water quality monitoring platforms in the Mississippi River Watershed. Data captured by GREON is made available both on this site and on NGRREC's Great Lakes to Gulf Virtual Observatory at greatlakestogulf.org.
NGRREC researchers launched the first GREON station in May 2013 on the Upper Mississippi River System. The program has expanded to deploy additional platforms both along the main stem and in reservoirs located in subwatersheds of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers. Each GREON monitoring unit uses state-of-the-art sensor technology mounted on a floating platform for in-situ measurement of a suite of water quality and weather-related parameters including water temperature, specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll, blue-green algae, fluorescent dissolved organic matter, nitrate and orthophosphate.
Selections of monitoring locations are made based on specific site conditions, research interests, available resources, etc. The GREON program currently has three water quality monitoring platforms deployed on the Mississippi River near LaCrosse, WI, Alton, IL and Cape Girardeau, MO. Additional platforms are deployed in Decatur, IL, Shelbyville, IL and in Carlyle, IL (Lake Decatur, Lake Shelbyville, and Carlyle Lake, respectively).
Monitoring Station Details
NGRREC partnered with YSI Inc. to design and launch monitoring platforms capable of near real-time, continuous collection of water quality data. The Lake Shelbyville station is a Pontoon for In-situ Characterization of Environmental Systems (PISCES) monitoring platform. The PISCES has dimensions of 4' x 8' (designed to fit in the bed of a pick-up truck), and approximately 6' in height. The platform consists of two lightweight pontoons supporting aluminum chests that contain water quality sensors, a peristaltic pump, a data logger, a cellular modem, and two 12V batteries, which are powered by solar panels. It also has a tower in the center of the platform, which is outfitted with weather monitoring sensors and additional solar panels. This high profile is also designed for visibility in navigable waterways. Sample water is collected through an intake tube submerged below the surface. It then travels through the center of the platform to a chest and is pumped through the sensor array. The monitoring station can be deployed by two people with a truck and a small boat and is easily serviceable from the water.