The River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON) is a real-time observation and monitoring network for rivers and estuaries. REON allows for continuous monitoring of physical, chemical, biological and atmospheric data from points in New York’s Hudson, Mohawk and St. Lawrence River watersheds via an integrated network of sensors, robotics, mobile monitoring and computational technology deployed in the rivers. 

The first generation of REON I floating sensor platforms, or "B" series, first deployed in 2008, has provided the technological foundation for REON II, an expanding network of Real Time Hydrologic Stations (RTHS) and REON Sondes placed in fixed positions on river banks.  As floating sensor platforms of REON I required removal due to icy water conditions to protect sensitive equipment in winter months, these fixed stations remain in place, providing valuable environmental monitoring throughout the year. 

The REON continuous data provided by the RTHS sensor arrays will inform scientists, research analysts and students and allow for new insights regarding the dynamics of water inputs, flow and particle movement in the watershed, among other critical ecosystem health indicators.

RTHS instrumentation located on the Grasse River in Massena, NY.

RTHS instrumentation located on the Grasse River in Massena, NY.

The goal of REON research is two-pronged: The REON research team, by applying innovative design enhancements to existing sensors, has enabled year-round monitoring and, perhaps more importantly, increased sensor efficiency, significantly lowering data collection costs. The Sonde, for example, is one-tenth the cost of the REON I floating monitoring platform.

"One of the goals of REON is to make sensor technology ubiquitous, completely universal," says Beacon Institute Chief Research Officer James S. Bonner, Ph.D., P.E. "Our work to improve the cost-effectiveness or REON sensors is a critical factor to reaching this goal. This shift will be transformational to the field of environmental science."

Applications of REON data could include the ability to visualize the movement of chemical or biological contaminants, protect fish species as they migrate, and provide a better scientific understanding of river and estuary ecosystems.