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Quick response by King County employees after Puget Sound water quality data buoy mishap

Summary

King County Environmental Laboratory employees are looking into how a water quality data collection buoy came loose from its mooring before washing ashore along West Seattle on June 29.

Story

King County Environmental Laboratory employees are looking into how a water quality data collectionbuoy_resize buoy came loose from its mooring before washing ashore along West Seattle on June 29.

The buoy and its host of environmental sensors had been in place off Point Williams since July 2013 and automatically transmitted a wealth of important data about environmental conditions. King County employees were notified early in the morning of June 29 that the buoy was ashore along the 5400 block of Beach Drive Southwest, south of Me-Kwa-Mooks Park.

Later that day, laboratory employees successfully refloated the buoy and towed it to the Elliott Bay Marina while arrangements are made to move it to the County’s environmental laboratory in Queen Anne for refitting.

While the buoy itself appears unscathed by its unexpected journey, a sensor that detects and transmits data on water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, specific conductivity and depth did not fare as well and was damaged.

Exactly how the buoy came loose from its mooring remains a mystery. The buoy was secured off Point Williams by nearly 1,200 pounds of weight, including two railroad wheels and a heavy gage steel chain that was attached to the buoy by a shackle mechanism.

Environmental laboratory workers will try to determine what part of the mooring set-up broke and how it can be repaired so that the buoy can be placed back at Point Williams.