Date of Award

Summer 7-16-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Todorova, Svetoslava


Arduino, Harmful Algal Bloom (HABs), Multi-parameter sensors, Nutrients, Water quality

Subject Categories

Civil and Environmental Engineering | Engineering


Skaneateles Lake is the drinking water source for the City of Syracuse and surrounding areas. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been occurring in Skaneateles Lake every year since 2017 and posing a great threat to water quality and drinking water safety. Although the exact cause of the HABs is still unclear, sunlight, quiescent conditions, warm temperature, and elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus seem to favor the development of such blooms. In this study, a custom-built, low-cost, multi-parameter sensor unit was designed, built, and deployed on a third-order tributary. The unit collected high-frequency data for stage, temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen. The unit successfully captured the variability in stream discharge calculated from stage measurements and temperature. The pH and dissolved oxygen sensors performed well during low-flow periods but deviated during high-flow events. Overheating of electronics also contributed to instability in sensor measurements.Grab water samples were collected from nine tributaries and analyzed for total and dissolved organic carbon, phosphorus species, and nitrogen species. Nutrient analysis suggested export of phosphorus and nitrogen during high flow events. Analysis of physical watershed characteristics such as stream order, watershed area, and basin slope, implied that hydrologic flow paths were controlling the concentrations of some carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus species. This study could provide a blueprint for building low-cost water monitoring systems in non-navigational rivers and contribute to the understanding of how hydrological and nutrient dynamics influences HABs in lakes.


Open Access



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