Tech Briefs

Monitoring suspended solids during construction of Wuskwatim

A unique system of providing real-time measurements of total suspended solids (TSS) in lake and river water was developed at the construction site of the 200-MW Wuskwatim Generating Station, says Scott Powell, communications officer for Manitoba Hydro. The station is on the Burntwood River in Northern Manitoba, Canada. Wuskwatim Power Limited Partnership (WPLP), an entity involving the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) and Manitoba Hydro, is developing the Wuskwatim project. Manitoba Hydro is managing construction of the project on behalf of WPLP.

As part of the project’s Fisheries Act authorization issued by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), a sediment management plan was put in place before construction began. Under this authorization, WPLP is required to minimize the input of sediment to surface waters and measure the concentration of sediment during construction, Powell says. Along with other measures, a combination of turbidity and TSS measurements are being used to ensure compliance with the authorization.

Because the process for determining TSS levels from collected water samples normally takes a couple of days, a new process was developed to allow Wuskwatim’s environmental inspectors to monitor the levels of TSS in real time. Using permanent turbidity monitors located throughout the area affected by the project, along with wireless data technology and specially developed computer models, real-time turbidity measurements can be converted to accurate, real-time TSS measurements, Powell says. This allows Wuskwatim project staff to monitor the effects of construction on water in the project area and to adjust construction activities to ensure TSS and turbidity levels remain within acceptable limits as prescribed by the DFO authorization.

To date, the system has worked as planned, with a variety of monitoring stations returning real-time data to the desktop of Wuskwatim’s project staff. Other than some short-term increases over baseline figures that were reduced by modifications to construction practices, the monitoring has shown that development of Wuskwatim is having a minimal effect on TSS levels in the river and lakes in the project area.

NEMA publishes standard for welding symbols

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) announces EW 4-2009, a standard that establishes graphic symbols for arc welding and cutting apparatus.

The 65-page standard provides users and manufacturers with a system for developing and using graphic symbols on their equipment. This system accommodates non-English speaking and functionally illiterate workers. Symbols identify controls, indicators, connection points, junctions, and processes.

EW 4-2009 contains 277 standardized symbols, including all the pertinent graphic symbols recognized by the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) TC 26 standard for electric welding. In some cases, a single function or keyword is represented by more than one acceptable symbol, such as the symbol for engine developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), IEC, and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

— The standard can be downloaded for free or purchased for $114 on the website:

BPA releases document on Columbia Basin fish recovery

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and other federal agencies announce availability of a new publication that describes locally developed recovery plans and restoration actions for fish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the Middle Columbia and Upper Columbia basins. The publication is called “Columbia Fish Recovery Update: Regional Partnerships, Historic Agreements, ‘On the Ground’ Actions.”

The 12-page document discusses:

— The Columbia Basin Fish Accords, signed in 2008 by two states, five tribes, and three federal agencies;

— The biological opinion on operation of the Columbia Basin’s federal hydropower system, issued in May 2008 by NOAA Fisheries;

— The biological opinion on the Bureau of Reclamation’s upper Snake River project operations, released in May 2008 by NOAA Fisheries;

— The biological opinion on the 13 dams in the Willamette Basin, issued in July 2008 by NOAA Fisheries; and

— ESA recovery plans.

The recovery plans address steelhead in the Middle Columbia River and salmon and steelhead in the Upper Columbia River. Strategies for recovery in the Middle Columbia River include protecting and maintaining tributary habitat, improving migratory passage through the federal hydropower system, improving hatchery management, and reducing predation. Recovery strategies in the Upper Columbia River include collaboration on fisheries management, restoration of oxbow habitat, reconnection of side-channel habitat, and enhancing spawning habitat for steelhead.

— The document can be printed at

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