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Posted 11/15/2017

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By Katie Buckler


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District Dive Team, accompanied by USACE Detroit District Hydraulic Engineers, traveled north to the St. Lawrence River and installed an Acoustic Doppler Velocity Meter (ADVM) 4-miles upstream of Morristown, New York.

The gage is intended to continuously measure river discharge using sonar and the Doppler shift effect to measure velocities of particulates in the water. A river discharge rating curve will be developed from the gage data, and combined with discharge data collected from a boat. River discharge can then be interpolated and reported by the gage almost instantaneously and continuously.

The gage will provide useful data for many agencies, including the International Joint Commission (IJC), USACE, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Geological Service (USGS). The USACE will use the data for connecting channel flow monitoring, and the EPA and USGS will use the data for nutrient/chemical load sampling into an out of lake Erie and Ontario.

The five-man installation crew consisted of divers Weston Cross, Martin Crosson, and Brian Dockstader. Andrew Hannes supervised the operation, while Shanon Chader took on the role of dive tender/supervisor.

The entire installation was accomplished in about 12 hours of in-water work. The first day of installation was devoted to assessing the condition and composition of the existing navigation structure. The structure is composed entirely of and angle and c-channel steel cage surrounding steel sheeting; therefore, drilling the anchors into the structure was not an option. The team adapted to the conditions and developed an attachment system on-the-spot.

USACE Buffalo District Coastal Geologist Weston Cross completed most of the underwater operations of this dive.

“The visibility in the river was excellent, up to 25 feet, which is not a typical dive condition,” said Cross

The visibility conditions made the work a bit easier, but the swift St. Lawrence River current provided its own unique challenges.

“Most of the underwater work was confined to the lee of the navigation structure,” said cross.  

This successful installation underscores the supreme competence, adaptability, and technical expertise of the Buffalo District Dive Team.

“The Buffalo District Dive Team is a model of planning, collaboration, adherence to safety, communication on and off the work site, competence, and hard work,” stated USACE Detroit District Hydraulic Engineer Justin Gresell.

The Buffalo District Dive Team is rare. It is a fully mobile, technically oriented unit that is ready to deploy at any time, any place, and for any mission. This makes the team highly valuable to the entire USACE community. The Team supports 15 Districts spanning 6 Divisions, and includes ERDC, NOAA, NYSCED, and the USACE Bridge Inspection Program. The team has recently deployed to Nome, Alaska, Tioga Dam, Pennsylvania, Camp Darby Italy, and Daegu pier 8 in Busan South Korea.

dive team Lake Ontario navigation St. Lawrence River USACE Buffalo District USACE Detroit District water levels