Water Quality Record Computation – Past & Present

This past month, I had the great pleasure of delivering a couple of new training classes offered by Aquatic Informatics. It was great to get to work with our outstanding AQUARIUS Support Team. It was also very refreshing to interact with water quality professionals from all around North America.

Since I have been with Aquatic Informatics, our training has focused mainly on hydrometrics with courses such as the “Standard Hydrometric Workflow”. These courses have had great applicability to the water quality domain, but it’s exciting to now offer a course tailored specifically to the water quality professional. The “Water Quality Record Computation” course demonstrates the robust capabilities of the AQUARIUS Time-Series system for managing, correcting, and publishing water quality time series data. The opportunity to dig deep into the AQUARIUS Time-Series system for water quality data management has been wonderful, but for me, the best part is interacting with professionals doing the day-to-day work that I did for 20 years. I like to get my hands dirty, at least from time to time. Telling stories with data has always been interesting to me, and I’m happy to extend my experience and passion to new and seasoned users of AQUARIUS Time-Series.

The new AQUARIUS course reminded me of what attracted me to the water quality domain in the first place.

The primary objective was always to be able to explain what’s ”in the water” and relate that to how that water is used for its intended purpose; resource protection, long-term sustainability, drinking water source protection, or watershed studies to name a few. The desire for high quality data expressed by the vast majority of water quality professionals is truly inspiring, and continues to inspire me to this day.

It is amazing how far the technology has come from my first days using sensor technology back in the early 90s (not actually that long ago, but according to my kids this makes me ancient!). I remember using one of the first dissolved oxygen meters with an analog output, and we had only 15 feet of cable to complete our vertical profiles. The sensors were relatively sturdy, but nothing compared to the robustness of the hardware that is available today. To that end, I recorded everything on the paper field sheet. I transformed vertical profiles to graphs on log paper by hand, a badge of honor that I still wear today. I remember using a monochrome screen (blindingly green) with one of the first versions of WordPerfect to type up my field reports and to communicate my results. The monitoring reports that used to take me hours are now incredibly easy to do now with today’s technology. Excel wasn’t even really in the mix at that time, although some of my professors at Indiana University had started pushing us toward spreadsheets in the early 90s. The spreadsheet revolution still resonates with me today, as I can remember learning the concepts of columns and rows, and how to graph based on cell location and basic formulas.

I could never have imagined back in the early 90s the kind of revolutionary changes we’d see in water quality software. As water quality professionals in 2015, we are not only able to collect mass amounts of data, but we are also able to grade and approve time series signals with a level of confidence that I would have never imagined just a few years ago.

We are also at a place in the world today where this data is critical for the long-term sustainability of the human race.

It is no surprise to any of you reading this that all over the globe, water is in short supply, and quality water is in even shorter supply. It is more important than ever to invest in the long-term sustainability and viability of water – both in its quantity and quality.

During both courses, a quote by Henry David Thoreau kept ringing through my head: “Things do not change, we change”. I would add that our change is exciting and necessary.

The quality of record computations is not something that can be left solely up to a software system.

I and the other subject matter experts at Aquatic Informatics would argue that best professional judgment is probably the most important skill to have if you are involved with water resource management. This is something that cannot be taught, but is only learned through experience. Thinking about the context of your measurements, correcting for any errors, categorizing any anomalies or representativeness that needs further investigation, and the ability to efficiently summarize and calculate your water quality records is as much of an art as it is science. Transforming data into information and using that information to implement business rules with the knowledge you’ve gained is a nexus in data management that will always continue to fascinate me.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the participants who attended the “Water Quality Record Computation” classes in October and November. As with all Aquatic Informatics course offerings, we are committed to continual improvement and offer our users the most up-to-date and modern training available. The participants from these classes offered positive feedback as well as some great ideas for future training courses.

If you’re interested in more information on the newest course offering from Aquatic Informatics “Water Quality Record Computation” please contact our excellent support team at support@aquaticinformatics.com.

See you on water,
Dave

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