What happens to a creek when it rains?

Anyone who has seen a body of water during or after rain would probably say, “The water rises!”

But, by how much does the water level rise? And how long does it take for the water to go back to normal depth? A few hours? A few days? Now we can put numbers to those questions at Minisceongo Creek in Rockland County. This data may provide valuable insight on the surrounding watershed’s flooding and erosion issues that have occurred in recent years.

View of Minisceongo Creek from Bridge St

The Minisceongo Creek, an approximately 11 mile long waterway, flows through 3 of 5 towns in Rockland County in New York State. The creek provides opportunities for research, education, and community building. To restore the creek and identify the key challenges it faces, the Minisceongo Creek Watershed Alliance (MCWA) was formed in August 2017. MCWA includes local government officials, local and state government agencies, local and regional non-profit organizations, and community scientists. It is one of two watershed alliances in Rockland County, which are groups dedicated to managing and restoring the health of watersheds for social, economic and environmental growth.

Rockland County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has partnered with Temboo to collect real-time measurements of the water level at Minisceongo Creek every 15 minutes. With the wireless depth sensor installed in October 2021, community members can get real-time flood data and stay dry while doing so! Rather than going outside while it’s raining and writing down measurements from a water level gauge every 15 minutes, members can watch the data come in on their computers or smartphones from the comfort of their homes. Furthermore, community members can easily share the collected data with any parties interested in watershed restoration and water quality monitoring. Take a look at the live data stream, pun intended.

Recent water level readings at Minisceongo Creek

How did we accomplish this? First, Temboo conducted range testing at the site to get an idea of signal strength between the gateway and sensor and to determine the best location to deploy the sensor. Leading up to the deployment, Temboo, Rockland County SWCD, and Garnerville Holding Company had a pre-deployment video chat to discuss logistics. We shared photos and sketches and coordinated who would bring what equipment.

Finally, deployment day came around! We started with connecting the gateway to WiFi at the gateway steward location. Then we entered the creek via ladder access and mounted the depth sensor and module onto pressure treated plywood that was installed by Garnerville Holding Company prior to deployment.

Nicole Laible (Rockland County SWCD), Manny (Garnerville Holding Company), and Vaughn Shinall & Madee Ku (Temboo) entering the creek via ladder.

The depth sensor is housed in a perforated PVC pipe that Temboo prepared beforehand. This is to protect the sensor from debris while still allowing the water level to rise and fall within the pipe. After mounting was complete, we pulled out our phones and started to see the water level data come into the dashboard! The installation on deployment day took about an hour and a half in total.

Depth sensor housed in perforated PVC

What’s next? This study will continue over the span of one year until October 2022. We’re looking forward to working with Rockland County SWCD to understand water levels and flood behavior and also supplement their existing water data and models.

To help our customers communicate environmental data with their community, Temboo has created “Spotlights”. We’re hoping that presenting insights with visual design and commentary will aid in educating and providing a stronger voice for the watershed community members.

Here’s a look at some early data insights about Minisceongo Creek water level:

If you or your organization are interested in collecting water quality data, and/or you’re interested in sharing insights about environmental data with your community, please contact us to learn how Temboo can help you!