Public Release: 

Clemson University researchers to monitor, restore historic campus creek

Intelligent River technology will provide real-time data on conditions

Clemson University

CLEMSON , S.C. -- A Clemson University Experiment Station grant of more than $100,000 will enable researchers to monitor and restore part of an historic creek that flows through and around the campus.

The one-time funding must be spent by June 2013, but it will set in motion a long-term program on local wetland enhancement and stream restoration.

Hunnicutt Creek and Clemson have a long relationship, one that goes back to the founding of the university. In 1890, state lawmakers approved using convict labor to make bricks for Clemson's first buildings from the clay in what then was called Mill Creek. Now, Hunnicutt Creek will have research and teaching roles, becoming an "intelligent creek," part of Clemson's Intelligent River project, and a living laboratory for faculty and students focusing on ecosystem assessment and restoration.

Cal Sawyer, associate director of the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence and assistant professor in the School of Agriculture, Forest and Environmental Science, leads the project that will provide research data for restoring and enhancing part of lower Hunnicutt Creek and the floodplain land that includes the Calhoun Field Laboratory.

"We will deploy sensors to collect data that will be used to analyze streambed and bank conditions, measure water flow and evaluate restoration and mitigation efforts," said Sawyer.

The Intelligent River project uses Clemson-designed onsite sensors to collect, temporarily store and transmit data to computers that check, correlate and display environmental conditions in real time. The Intelligent River technology, designed to monitor and assess water quality along the 312-mile length of the Savannah River, has generated spinoffs develop the Intelligent Forest and Intelligent Farm.

The Hunnicutt Creek watershed fits nearly hand in glove with the Clemson campus. The watershed drains through campus, collecting runoff from building rooftops, parking lots and other impervious surfaces.


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