Improving Water Quality in Ox Creek

Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA

Runoff during storms moves sediment and various water pollutants Benton Harbor’s Ox Creek. To help reduce this material, known as Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Professor Branko Kerkez and his team are using wireless sensors to monitor water quality and flow conditions and to control drains.

Water Theme

Funding Source

Urban Collaboratory

About the Project

Part of the redevelopment efforts of Benton Harbor have focused on Ox Creek, with the envisioned goals of cleaner water, a boat launch, and trails through what are now polluted areas.

To improve water quality, alternative drain techniques to reduce Total Suspended Solids (TSS) have been recommended. This project focuses on the innovative deployment of a sensor network to measure the water and sediment balance of Ox Creek. The project will directly contribute to the goal of the restoration of Ox Creek, through the development of alternative management strategies for agricultural field runoff.


Project deliverables will include:

  •  An analysis of existing data to understand the hydrology and water quality dynamics of the upper reaches of Ox Creek.
  •  Soil sampling and the measurement of permeability in the agricultural areas bordering Ox Creek.
  •  A network of sensors that measure stream stage, turbidity, and suspended solids, temperature and conductivity.
  •  Two real-time tile drain control structures and their evaluation.
  •  A real-time control dashboard for tile drain control and water quality parameter data gathered by the sensors.
  •  An evaluation of the contributions of real-time tile drain control to the improvement of water quality in Ox Creek.

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