DAVENPORT — The U.S. Geological Survey is expanding its network of water quality sensors to include a first of its kind mobile sensor attached to back of a steamboat that will travel the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana.

The sensor will measure water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, water clarity and nitrate levels in real time. Geological Survey Director, James Reilly, says the data will expand on the thousands of fixed sensors in waterways across the watershed.

“So what we’re going here is increasing the speed of delivery of the information that allows people to describe what’s going on in the watershed, get a healthy source of drinking water as well as water that’s used for industrial purposes,” according to Reilly.

Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch joined mayors from up and down the river to support the initiative. He says nutrient loading, mainly from farm runoff, is a major threat to drinking water. “In order to manage this threat we must be able to measure it. Without measurement we don’t make any progress,” Klipsch says.

Data from the sensor will be uploaded online for use by researchers, elected officials and the public.

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