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High-tech Lake Erie buoy provides new source of information

CLEVELAND (AP) — A high-tech buoy was placed 8 miles offshore in Lake Erie in preparation for construction of a wind farm, but it’s proving to be a treasure trove of environmental information for boaters, fishermen and scientists.

The first-of-its-kind buoy is collecting and transmitting wind speeds, water temperatures and wave conditions ahead of construction, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported.

“When we began planning for the lake study, we wanted to make as much of the data available to the public as possible and this buoy was a great opportunity for us to do that,” said Lorry Wagner, president of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., which is in charge of the project. “As a boater myself, I know how valuable real-time local observations of wind speeds and wave heights can be when deciding to go on the water.”

Aquatic researchers and state agencies will have access to data on lake currents, water chemistry, toxic algae, fish habitat and behavior and boating conditions, and the buoy will also gather information on migrating birds and bats.

Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory is conducting studies on juvenile fish in that part of the lake and they will use environmental measurements and dissolved oxygen data from the buoy, Wagner said. It is also equipped with a high-definition webcam that transmits video and images hourly on the internet.

All of the data will be turned over to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources when the five-year study is completed.

The Lake Erie wind farm would be the nation’s first offshore fresh water project. Plans call for the turbines to be operating by 2018.

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