REON II Will "Wire" Rivers for Cleaner Water

Cost Saving Sensor Arrays Transform Science, Policy and Security

In the race to find solutions to critical water issues, REON II is our new generation of cost-effective sensor arrays designed to transform the Hudson River into a living laboratory for real-time water monitoring that will advance Federal and state policy goals for clean, fishable, swimmable and secure waters.

“With innovative modifications to technology and materials, Beacon Institute has totally bent the cost-curve for real-time monitoring.”— Timothy F. Sugrue, Ph. D., President/CEO, Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries at Clarkson University

“With innovative modifications to technology and materials, Beacon Institute has totally bent the cost-curve for real-time monitoring.”— Timothy F. Sugrue, Ph. D., President/CEO, Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries at Clarkson University

The first REON II deployment was conducted October 6th on the banks of the Hudson River in New Hamburg, NY. The “sonde” will provide real-time data so scientists can better understand the complex relationship between humans, the built environment and our fragile waterways. It is one of 37 sensor stations currently in place in the Hudson and St. Lawrence River watersheds, making REON one of the world’s most robust resources of real-time data.

The threefold mission of this latest iteration of the River and Estuary Observatory Network is to:

  • Overcome the hurdle of historically prohibitive costs for long-term water resource monitoring. Although real-time monitoring technologies have been with us for decades, their development is still in its adolescence. Affordable, virtually expendable, sensors, combined with real-time streaming of water quality data would allow states to track their compliance with mandated regulatory programs. Revolutionary applications that protect the environment and the public would become commonplace, such as: full-time monitoring systems that report drinking water quality before water reaches the tap, permanent sensor arrays that monitor swimming beaches, biological monitoring stations that track life forms from earliest to mature stages, and early warning systems that identify suspect viruses or toxins that are a threat to public safety and national security.
  • Pass the research baton from the science lab to the living river. The traditional research method of scheduled, physical collection of samples, that are then returned to a laboratory for conventional analysis, causes long delays and makes impractical timely response to natural and human-induced events, such as storms, spills, floods, and more. Withinnovations such as “labs on a chip” and miniaturized flow cytometry, rivers like the Hudson can be their own “wired” laboratories where we can “plug-in” to collect crucial data.
  • Compliment government capacity for “wiring” waterways to protect human and environmental health. State and federal agencies, such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the National Science Foundation, are actively involved in funding deployment of real-time and remote monitoring systems. REON II is being developed with the objective of complimenting these systems and assisting in the much needed innovations in sensor development and real-time monitoring that will enable monitoring technologies to achieve their full potential for protecting environmental and public health, safety and security.

“Scientific instruments have been able to do what we do here but at a price that can knock you right out of the market,” says Beacon Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy F. Sugrue, Ph.D. “With innovative modifications to technology and materials Beacon Institute has totally bent the cost-curve for real-time monitoring, opening doors for a new era of environmental protection.”

The REON II research and development team is tasked with creating affordable, scalable, low-profile sensor networks that can operate year-round, including during harsh winter weather. Innovations that make water sensor technology universal, affordable and robust will transform science, policy and homeland security.

“Applying world class research to water quality has to be viewed as a critical component for sustaining society as a whole,” says Clarkson University President Tony Collins. “As healthy water becomes increasingly scarce, establishing real-time data as the new standard for understanding water quality around the globe is the key to human survival.”