Eco Logical Research, Inc (ELR) located in Logan, Utah, develops survey designs for fish and their habitat as well as stream restoration in the Pacific Northwest. They have over 14 years of experience with tributary and spawning habitat of salmon across the Columbia River Basin as well as the Snake, Columbia, and Klamath Rivers.
As part of their collaboration with CHaMP, (Columbia Habitat and Monitoring Program), ELR has a contractual agreement for project equipment purchases, maintenance, and technician training/liaison. Research on various models and manufacturers of equipment are done and a decision is made on the equipment for the entire project. ELR, along with collaborative organizations, hold technician training prior to the field study season to review study protocols and equipment operation
In 2012, ELR was busy researching different types of flow meters available for their studies due to dissatisfaction with meters they had been using. According to Meagan Polino, an independent contractor working with ELR for CHaMP as the 'Quarter Master', "We used to use a velocity meter that wasn't sensitive enough to be able to detect extremely low flows we sometimes encountered in our studies and the old meters just didn't hold up very well."
Polino adds, "We are using meters throughout the Columbia River basin to collect discharge in a variety of different types of sites that have been chosen to represent a wide range of habitats. This long term monitoring program involves implementation of 'status and trend' rapid assessment-type surveys, focused on the habitat for salmon at varying life stages." The current project is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal self-funded agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. BPA markets wholesale electrical power from federal hydro projects in the Columbia River Basin. Approximately one-third of the electric powered in the Northwest comes from BPA. Several other agencies and organizations are involved in this project including U.S. Fish & Wildlife, NOAA, and various consulting engineering firms as well as research consulting firms like ELR
The field assessments are done in a variety of different geographic settings ranging from steep mountain streams to low gradient flat grassland sites for the purpose of documenting the habitat and comparing temporal change, as it relates to salmon in the area. She states, "The CHaMP protocol we are now using was designed about 3 years ago. The protocol incorporates detailed topographic surveys of the sites. The shortest sites are 160 meters and the longest sites are about 600 meters. Typically crews of 3 are sent out into the field to perform the surveys."
When Polino contacted the local Hach Flow Meter representative, Mike Charnholm of Goble Sampson, in search of flow meters for the 2012 season, he recommended the Hach FH950 portable flow meter.
The Hach FH950 flow meter simplifies set up, displays real time data and trend information, auto-calculates discharge volumes and eliminates the need for manual recording with its convenient USB to PC data download; with no moving parts, the sensor is maintenance-free!
Polino had contacted Charnholm to discuss a possible order for the Marsh-McBirney Flo-Mate meters but found out that it was being replaced with the FH950. Polino was familiar with the Marsh-McBirney meter and had used them while working with Utah State University. She states that the Marsh meter had been around for a really long time and was a standard for many organizations involved in scientific research programs.
After discussing the features and benefits of the FH950 in greater detail as well as a product demonstration, Polino felt that the meter would really suit their needs. Orders were placed in 2012 and 2013 for a total of 20 meters. Polino finds the meters to be efficient and very simple to operate. She comments, "The specs and the price were definitely a factor for us in choosing the meters. We definitely like the fact that they automatically calculate flow and don't require frequent calibration or maintenance." Additionally, FH950's compact and lightweight design is desirable since field crews sometimes hike into sites a few miles or so. She adds, "That's really a big deal for us!"
For more information on the flow monitoring products and services offered by Hach Co., visit www.hachflow.com.