The DCPs were originally installed in 1976.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District (USACE) has upgraded and replaced the Data Collection Platforms (DCPs) used in rivers across the district. DCPs are designed to provide information on parameters such as river level and precipitation, and the upgraded DCPs transmit information once every hour, the district says.
The district placed the first two DCPs on the Ohio River at Martins Ferry, W.Va., and Shadyside, Ohio, in 1976. From then until 2008, the DCPs transmitted river information once every four hours.
The upgrade modernized all river gages at the district’s 23 navigation dams and also converted all remaining DCPs to the most recent technology, says the USACE. The upgrade was possible with the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
“We’re excited because we were scheduled to replace one DCP every year, but we were actually able to update all of them in two years,” Werner Loehlein, Pittsburgh District Water Management Chief, says.
When the district began installing the DCPs in the mid-1970s, the district says it was among the leaders in river monitoring technology. With the recent update, the Pittsburgh District says that leadership position has been maintained, as the technology has allowed a more sustainable system, broader distribution of information and a much more timely report of river conditions.
“The new technology improves forecasts that would affect property or life on a much more localized level,” Michael Janiszewski, hydrological technician for the Pittsburgh District, says. “The National Weather Service is even using the Corps models for forecasting on the Ohio River.”
Loehlein explains this technology is especially beneficial for lock and dam operators. The improved DCPs allow the operators more time for preparations in a weather event, which is vital because of reduced staffing at some facilities.
“The technology also has redundant systems, so if one part is not working another part of the system will still be able to provide the needed information,” Janiszewski says.
In addition to the technology, Loehlein says there are few regions in the country more interwoven with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as the Pittsburgh District.
“This upgrade was a tri-agency effort,” Loehlein says. “We meet with NOAA and USGS three times a year to form an integrated government network to serve the region.”
More information is available at www.lrp.usace.army.mil.