Water Quality Testing

Volunteers Needed!

The CDS Conservation committee received a grant from The Cave Conservatory for the purpose of developing a Hydrolab like water monitoring platform using Hobo Sensors. The Grant ($3,000) was supplemented with donations from members of the cave diving communities (Jeff Rouse, Buford Pruitt, Forrest Wilson, Gary Schaut, Kyle Moschell, and Jacqueline Tregre - (over $500) I thank all for their support. We have named this unit the Hydrological Instrumentation Platform or HIP for short. Attached is a photo of the HIP, The Hobo data loggers were purchased along with the corresponding uplink hardware, software, calibration gear the Platform was designed and built by myself. The Platform consists of the sensor tray (where the data loggers are clipped into), the Housing tube (perforated PVC which contains the rigging points), Nose cone and tail assembly unit. The data loggers are calibrated and programed for the dive the night before, these includes programing what time they are to wake up and go to work (roughly 1/2 hour before the time we are expected to begin the dive). The Next day on site, the loggers (dissolved O2, Conductivity and Temp/depth) are attached to the sensor tray via custom light clips (like on a Goodman handle or helmet) then the tray slides into the Housing tube where the Nose Cone and tail assembly are attached to the tube pinning all the pieces together. The unit is the size and shape and rigged identical to an Al 40 stage bottle.  I chose this simply because an Al 40 is something every Full Cave Diver should be able to do, therefore increasing the volunteer lot.

The Data Loggers are chronologically based, that is to say, they are programmed to turn on at a certain time (say 10 AM EST) then they take readings at predetermined intervals (every minute) till they are plugged back into the laptop and told to turn off. At this point you upload the data from the loggers to the laptop where it is turned into time based graphs and spread sheets. The Loggers base its time on the time in the laptop, I synch the laptop to my cell phone then I also synch my shearwater computers to my cell phone. Now everything is time synched to the cell phone with the Cell phone currently being the most consistent measurement of time.

The HIP is placed on the diver like a stage bottle, as he swims thru the system water from the systems flows thru the HIP over the Data Loggers in the unit. The data loggers then takes a water sample electronically at pre-programmed intervals (right now we are looking at every minute.) Way points in the dive plan (such as survey stations or line marker arrows) are pre written on the divers wrist slate, as the diver passes a Way point he marks the run time on the wrist slate. By comparing run times in the data loggers to the wrist slate it will allow us to pin point where the diver is in the system and what the water's Dissolved O2, Conductivity, and temperature/depth is at that point in the system.

Also attached is a picture of myself diving the HIP during one of the test dives at the Devil's System. At some point I’ll find a better looking model.

The Hip has so far been light weight, durable and easy to swim with. It is diver friendly as the rigging points are easily adjustable. Since both the batteries and sensors both expire on calendar time. For example- the Dissolved O2 sensor lasts eight months from time of opening as opposed to number of uses, it is our intention to use the HIP as often as possible.

We are now ready to begin training volunteers to help with the Underwater cave Archiving Project. If you will like to take part or have any suggestions, please let me know. We are currently looking to continue or begin Fauna Counts along with the HIP in the following systems. This is flexible and subject to change. Please note that the names of all caves that are on private property, upon the Owners request, are kept confidential. These are referred to on all public postings as Wild Cave #. This is to protect both the land owner and the system.

  • Wild Cave #1 - Full Cave - side mount only - two diver teams only - we have been doing fauna counts for slightly over 1 year and just added the HIP. Once per month as conditions allow.
  • Wild Cave #2 - Full Cave - Timex and Abe Davis required - System has an upstream and downstream running as deep as 150 ft and is slity. Beautiful delicate system and will need to be approached with care. Once a month as conditions allow.
  • Cow Springs Upstream - Full Cave - in planning stages, we are looking to compare main line to off suit passages as well as water readings. Once a month as conditions allow
  • Cow Springs Down Stream #1&2 - Full Cave Side Mount - looking to fauna count and water readings. Once a month as conditions allow.
  • Devils System - full cave -scooter- Both side mound or back mount - Fauna and Water readings in 4 passages. Each month we will record in a different passage up to 4 passages then on 5 month repeat back to passage 1. This way each passage is recorded on a Tri-semester (3x yearly)
  • other systems as conditions, personal, availability allow

This is not all inclusive and we are opened to suggestions.

I would like to build teams around each cave so that the amount of time and effort is shared by a community and not by a few.

All data collected will become public knowledge and shared on the CDS website and with the Suwannee River Water Management. I realize that this e-mail has a lot of info and will raise more questions then answers, so please feel free to reach out to me. Aside from the archiving project I'd like to get clean ups going again so please feel free to reach out to me with suggestions.


Thank you,

Michael Angelo Gagliardi
Conservation chair - NSS-CDS