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Eye Of Sauron

NORDIC CREEK AT THE OUTLET OF NORDIC GLACIER (08NB020) and SUNDRY SUMMER BUSINESS

Nordic Creek AutoSalt Site

Figure 1: Nordic Creek (Photo Credit: Backcountry Lodges of BC)

Wagner blasted in our headsets as Mark the pilot and I crested Hermit Ridge and the full spectacle of the mountain scene fell on my retina.  I struggled to comprehend it all.  Ventego Lake, a beautiful milky green eye in the mountain gazed skyward, Sorcerer Lodge tucked behind a moraine, Nordic Glacier retreated to its mountain lair, while Nordic Creek spilled over the edge of the world.  Helicopter time ticked on and I had to choose a site for the AutoSalt (AQAc 300) system we’d been asked to install for the WSC at the site Nordic Creek at the Outlet of Nordic Glacier (08NB020) in the Canadian Rockies. After a very quick assessment, I chose to unload at the existing WSC site which appeared, at first glance, to be the perfect Salt Dilution Instream Q (SDIQ) site: a grinding mixing length, easy access to both shores, a stable site to mount the tank with access to the water for the Pressure Transducer (PT).  Mark and I had been chatting on the way in about some of the amazing sites we get to see in this line of work.  His job is interesting: it’s essentially a desk job but his desk flies through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.  It reminds me of the Rutger Hauer line from Blade Runner,

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Mark didn’t actually say that, but I imagined that he did as he flew away in his desk.  I then took a more keen inventory of my alien surroundings.  Looking up the mountain, the milky water boiled over the slopes, seen in Figure 2.  Then I saw the eye of Sauron watching me from the upper right and I remembered Dave Hutchinson’s last words to me,

I’m trusting you to make this work, Gabe, I’ve staked my professional career on its success.  If you mess this up I’m finished and so help me, I’ll take you down too!

I got down to work.

Figure 2. Someone is watching me.

When installing an AutoSalt system, you must first decide on the locations of the AutoSalt injector and the two downstream Electrical Conductivity-Temperature compensated (EC.T) sites.  The EC.T probes must be far enough downstream of the injector to achieve complete mixing (side to side), be accessible, and have calm non-aerated flow over a range of water levels.  The upstream injector site must have a stable base to mount the stand, which can hold 300 Litres of brine, be above the high water mark, have access to the creek to measure the water level and be able to inject the brine over a range of flows, and have good solar exposure.  It’s a lot to ask of a site.  Going further upstream meant going above a braided reach which offered very little additional mixing and added a lot of trouble to haul all the gear, and 60kg of salt, up there. Going downstream was not feasible on the right bank due to a sheer dropoff.  There were very few non-aerated sections in which to install the EC.T probes.

The peerless Emma Tayless from WSC was there to help me carry heavy things and generally keep me from harm.  She busied herself with her regular WSC tasks, including 1-person surveys involving complicated survey rod holders and other calisthenics.  I was impressed by her rigour, but horrified when she pulled out a Sommer Tracer Q system.  Much to my delight, it didn’t work. That’s all I’m saying.

Figure 3. Final AutoSalt Site Setup (Click to Zoom)

I first chose to test the site closest to the WSC gauge, the EC.T site shown in Figure 3.  However, the discrepancy between calculated Q from the LB and RB gauges (6.5cms and 2.6cms) proved incomplete mixing.  I eventually chose to install both probes on the LB over the ledge, shown in Figure 4.  While I did not have RB EC.T data to confirm complete mixing, the SDIQs were agreeing with Emma’s concurrent ADV measurements, and visual inspection of the chute below the WSC gauge indicated very thorough mixing was achieved.  The site locations are in these Google Earth placemarks: Nordic AutoSalt Injection System.

Figure 4. EC.T probe locations in calm shallow flow.

Once the site decisions were made, installation of AutoSalt is QiQn’EZ!1  In a flurry of rockbolts, hoseclamps, and zipties, the system was installed and tested.  We like to perform a manually measured salt injection and also a pump test to ensure all assumptions are within spec.  It helped to have Emma’s ADV measurements to compare with as well (Note to self, always ensure both EC.T probes are turned on before injecting salt).  The system was setup to inject every 2cm drop in stage overnight and we returned in the morning to collect the data.  The AutoSalt controller is hooked up to a Neon NRT satellite telemetry system and injections can be viewed in realtime along with battery voltage, reservoir level, and creek stage.  However the EC.T probes log 5 second data continuously to an SD card which must be downloaded.  In the near future, we aim to have the EC.T data logged and transmitted in realtime by the AutoSalt controller, thereby allowing complete RC development in realtime and online.

Figure 5: Results of day and overnight AutoSalt measurements (Click to Zoom)

I uploaded the EC.T data along with salt mass data from the AutoSalt controller to our new online SDIQ service called WIT-HM (Watershed Information Tool – HydroMetric).  This site allows the rapid processing of SDIQs, along with uncertainty analysis, and a handy-dandy compound-hydraulically-based RC fitting and development tool.  The results of the overnight test are shown in Figure 5.  We captured the full diurnal signal from 0.26m (1.6cms) to 0.35m (3.5cms coincidentally).  The system is now set to inject every 1.4 days in order to scan the diurnal signal.  With about 40 potential measurements for this tank and site, we expect this to last several months.  If a site visit is planned, we can set an online register value to request frequent measurements if we want to empty the brine tank before the visit.

I believe the Nordic Creek AutoSalt trial is off to a good start.  I must believe that.  If I start to doubt myself, it opens a window for the Lord of the Rings to see into my empty soul, and that never makes for good hydrometrics.

1) Installation of AutoSalt is neither quick, nor easy.  But it is straightforward.

Jazzlo KasFest and Revelstoke KayakFest

I tagged the install onto the end of a summer road trip with my daughter, Mia, which included the Kaslo Jazzfest on Kootenay Lake.  This was an exceptional event; when other big fests failed, Kaslo Jazzfest slam-dunked it with a stellar lineup including Shakey Graves, Mavis Staples, Jill Barber, and many hidden gems.  The venue was magical; a cool and shady grass covered lakeside beach with a floating stage, swimming nearby, a menagerie of ethnic/healthy food trucks, and minutes walk to the quaint downtown Kaslo.  I would say charming but they had no good coffee joints, so I was not charmed.  It’s also on a right angle, shown in Figure 6, which can be challenging.

Figure 6. In Kaslo, everything is at a right angle. You move through the city by swinging from sign to tree, running along fences, and jumping from vehicle to building, etc.

My daughter even got to chat with Shakey on the street as he rose bleary eyed from his tour bus to explore his new surroundings on a whirlwind tour of the US and a few Canadian stops.  Kaslo was by far the smallest venue on his agenda, which seemed to lower his guard.  The concert was great, except for the drunk dancers that gyrated to the front of the crowd (where we’d staked out some real-estate) under fake pretenses of “just wanting to enjoy the music man, relax!”

How would you like it if I gyrated between you and your girlfriend?

I asked.  This didn’t go over well.

When I woke up the next day, I made my way to Nelson for some Oso Negro coffee, which means black bear, so calm down.  It’s very good coffee.  I then made my way to up to Revelstoke.  The plan was to setup the AutoSalt for some more tests on a quiet Forest Service Road (FSR) near a creek.  I found the perfect spot on a map, Jordan River, and pulled into a quiet early morning parking lot with a few kayakers milling about, cleaning up their campsite.  “Perfect,” I thought.  I started to setup.  More and more kayakers arrived.  “Popular site,” I said aloud to myself.  Finally, a friendly New Zealander, Andy, poked his head into my scene, “What are you up to here?” he enquired.  I gave him a rundown of Salt Dilution measurements, my agenda, to which he replied,

Did you know we’re having a kayaking festival here, today?

“Oh.” Turned out to be just fine.  I met the organizer, Koby, and he promised me a beer if I could tell him the flow today, which he said was perfect for kayaking.  “I figure it’s about 20 cms.”  It was refreshing to meet people who really cared about what the flow is, in cms to boot.

So I setup, tested, measured the flow to be 13cms.  I learned of a party up the road after the festival and got an invite to join.  After taking several winding turns down this dusty FSR, I arrived at a bouncing hip scene in the woods with a throbbing beat and colourful lights.  A BBQ was going and I tracked down Koby who delivered on promised beer in exchange for 13cms.  We talked about the possibilities of inexpensive online flow monitoring.  I then found my kiwi friend, Andy, and his brother Mike, who recently started their own whitewater paddle company, Hardcore Paddles.  Like me, they didn’t set out to build a better mousetrap, but just couldn’t find a mousetrap that did what they wanted it to do.  And so there we were in the middle of the bush chatting about manufacturing and insurance matters.  You just never know.  Follow the beer, I say.

Upcoming Flow Regattas

Speaking of taking chances, and following the beer, now’s your chance to test your lot and mad skillz against your colleagues and rivals at the 2018 EFN Flow Regatta, BBQ, and Q Competition.  This time it’s in Kelowna at the EFN conference. We are hoping to setup a few winery/EFN tours, for educational purposes.  We are still deciding on a Tuesday Oct 17 or Friday Oct 20 regatta date.  Let me know your preference and if you’re coming out.  It’s going…to be….epic.

And far, far in the future, planning is underway for the 2019 EGU Flow Regatta, Apr 7-12 in Vienna, Austria.  Start building your business case for your employers.  Last Year it was the place to be and be seen.  Who knows what path you’ll end up on?

Figure 7. Find the path to the beer.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dad

    What a interesting life you created, I love thinking about tears in the rain,

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