UT Installs Water Quality Station to Monitor Hillsborough River

Published: Feb 6, 2009
The University of Tampa’s location on the Hillsborough River has long been convenient for sightseeing, sunbathing and boating — and now for monitoring Tampa Bay water quality.

UT has recently partnered with the University of South Florida College of Marine Science/Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS) to install a water quality monitoring station literally in the University’s backyard — just off the bank of the lower Hillsborough River.

“UT’s location is prime for water quality monitoring since it is situated in a heavily urbanized area on one of the major rivers providing fresh water to Tampa Bay,” said Steve Hendrix, UT associate professor of chemistry. “Plus, we house the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Marine Analysis (LAMA), and we have a long history of collaboration with USF in the area of oceanographic nutrient research.”

The data from the UT station will monitor in real time the nutrients in the water as they flow toward Tampa Bay. The station will monitor nitrate, salinity, water temperature and tide height. According to Hendrix, millions of gallons of water a day is released into the Hillsborough River by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and this station will provide key water quality data.

The water quality monitoring station will allow UT chemistry students to be involved in providing data as part of ongoing research projects.

Additionally, UT’s weather station, located atop the Cass Building, will provide meteorological data to complement the water quality data.

USF has provided the station assembly and associated infrastructure at no cost. UT alumnus and USF post-doctoral fellow Dr. Rob Masserini is leading the project from the USF side.

The sensor station, which was installed in late December, is located just north of the floating crew docks and north of McKay Hall on the UT campus. Power for the system is provided by a solar panel.

The UT station will be integrated into a larger project by the Oceanic Nutrient Laboratory, which recently collaborated with Tampa Bay Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS) and the USF COMPS to monitor nutrients in Tampa Bay. Currently there are PORTS stations in such locations as Port Tampa, Egmont Channel and Sunshine Skyway.

These observing systems are also integrated with NOAA coastal ocean observing systems (COOS).

For more information, contact Hendrix at (813) 257-3441 or shendrix@ut.edu.