Responding to recent fish kills in Lake Macquarie, New South Wales’ Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has released a new ‘smart buoy’ for assessing water quality, using pumps to automatically sample water from different depths.
The custom-built buoy – which looks like a traditional navigation buoy – samples water using a pump system, which then passes through an array of water quality sensors, and transmits the data to the cloud for real-time analysis.
The project is conducted in partnership with the Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) Science, Economics and Insights Division.
New South Wales EPA Chief Executive Officer, Tony Chappel, said the buoy has been deployed near Wyee Point, and will contribute to the long-term understanding of water quality in the lake.
“The health of the lake is an important issue for us and the recent fish kills have understandably raised a lot of concern in the community,” Mr Chappel said.
“As the largest saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere, we want to ensure we have the best technology in place to monitor any changes.
“Over the next six months, the buoy will provide our teams with vital baseline data, which will assess salinity, turbidity, oxygen, temperature and pH levels.
“The biggest benefit of these buoys is the real-time data they provide – this will help our teams to spot an issue before it’s too late, and hopefully protect against any further impacts on the lake’s marine life.
“We know the lake is the heart of the local community, and we will continue to do what we can to keep people informed and ensure the best protections are in place.”
DPE’s Science, Economics and Insights (SEI) Executive Director, Georgina Kelly, said smart buoys were part of a network of water quality initiatives set up across the state by the department’s SEI division.
“This technology has been designed and purpose-built by SEI, and we typically use these buoys for monitoring water quality in estuaries or for short-term deployments following a flood or bushfire event as we monitor the impact of natural disasters on NSW waterways,” Dr Kelly said.
The EPA’s investigation into the fish kills remains a top priority, with the most up-to-date statement available on the EPA’s website.
Feature Image: The smart buoy was deployed on 12 October 2022 to assess water quality following recent fisk kills at Lake Macquarie. Photo: EPA.