Automated instrumentation at Crooked Creek Dam

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District
Published Feb. 24, 2015
Joe Premozic works to adjust dataloggers in the newly installed permanent enclosure for piezometers at Crooked Creek Dam

Joe Premozic works to adjust dataloggers in the newly installed permanent enclosure for piezometers at Crooked Creek Dam

The recent installation of vibrating wire sensors and data loggers on select piezometers Crooked Creek Dam near Ford City, Pennsylvania, will provide data on a much more frequent basis than is possible with manual readings.

The district’s Geotechnical Engineering Section installed the equipment which will provide automated water pressure readings every 15 minutes -- a big improvement over the monthly manual readings provided under normal conditions.

The availability of increased and timely data will help the district more closely monitor subsurface conditions at the dam and more effectively identify and address issues that may arise.

Traditionally, automated data acquisition systems (ADAS) have been built and installed by an architect-engineer contractor. The ADAS installation at Crooked Creek Dam was the first installation by district geotechnical engineers who are responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of the system and evaluation of the data.

Tom Brown and Joe Premozic, geotechnical civil engineers, automated two standpipe piezometers by lowering and securing vibrating wire sensors to a known elevation within the existing standpipe. The sensors were connected to battery-powered data loggers installed in a permanent enclosure on the downstream embankment face.

Prior to the installation of the sensors, project personnel were required to take manual readings with a water level indicator at daily, weekly, or monthly intervals. Four other standpipe piezometers were temporarily instrumented with sensors and data loggers to evaluate their performance.

Diane Czelusta and Ben Sakmar, of the Dam and Levee Safety Unit, and Barb Hopkins of the Geospatial Section visited the site to learn more about the installation and data retrieval process.

Piezometers are installed in all Pittsburgh District dams to measure hydraulic pressure within the dams and their foundations. Crooked Creek is the second dam in the district’s 16 reservoir system to receive the automated wire sensors and data loggers.


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