Analysis of Streamflow Trends in the Southeast U.S.

The southeast U.S. is widely perceived as a water rich region, yet recent droughts, highly variable streamflows, and rapidly growing demands for water have revealed vulnerabilities and the potential for widespread water scarcity. In this research, we identify patterns and trends in regional streamflow records in AL, GA, MS, and the Gulf of Mexico region of northwest FL and investigate potential causes of observed patterns and trends (climatic variability, land use change, and other factors). Further, we aim to perform a regional vulnerability assessment focused on water availability for thermoelectric power production.


Fluvial Instability and Riparian Degradation

This project is aimed at advancing the inclusion of fluvial erosion processes and their effects on nutrient delivery via channel instability and degraded riparian functions in nutrient assessments and reduction strategies.

Linkages between bank erosion, incision, and other forms of channel instability; delivery and transport of sediment-adsorbed phosphorus from streambanks; and degradation of riparian nutrient-removal functions are examined. This is a critical issue in nutrient management because fluvial instability and stream network adjustments to land use change are ubiquitous, and channel erosion is the primary source of fine sediment and adsorbed phosphorus in many watersheds.

Additional Links:

GDOT Bridge Hydraulics

Bridge construction often necessitates placement of temporary features such as rock jetties and coffer dams in stream and river channels during the construction process. However, there is no existing guidance or standard method for evaluating the potential effects of these temporary construction features on hydraulics, bank stability, and biological habitats. This research aims to provide a physically based tool for evaluating the influence of temporary channel obstructions on instream hydraulics and the potential geomorphic and ecological effects.

Georgia SeaGrant

Incorporating Future Infrastructure Decisions into Salt Marsh Migration Models

This project focuses on developing improved modeling tools to predict the effects of coastal armoring on salt marsh migration as sea level rises.  As sea levels rise, marshes migrate inland but begin to be eliminated when the marsh is ‘squeezed’ between rising water levels and armored shorelines.  Armoring of shorelines includes the installation of hard structures that prevent erosion and flooding, such as bulkheads and revetments.  Currently, the effects of anthropogenic armoring in habitat change and sea level rise modeling is oversimplified.  This project incorporates the complexities of armoring into these models to produce more realistic predictions of future marsh habitat extent.  This improved modeling will allow decision-makers to better understand the future implications of armoring decisions and weigh the trade-offs of salt marsh conservation and infrastructure protection, as well as identify areas that are better suited for either conservation or development. 

Guidance for Design Hydrology for Stream Restoration and Channel Stability

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Report 853: Guidance for Design Hydrology for Stream Restoration and Channel Stability provides written guidance and interactive tools to help hydraulic engineers assess the current conditions adjacent to a stream crossing and in the upstream watershed. Specifically, the guidance and tools provide support in assessing the current conditions adjacent to a stream crossing and in the upstream watershed to determine design effort, performing the appropriate hydrological and geomorphic analysis using a set of analytical and analog tools, and designing the channel through the stream crossing for stability and sediment balance.

Additional Links:

NCHRP Research Report 853

NOAA Coastal and Ocean Climate Application Program

Hidden Infrastructure: Onsite Wastewater Disposal and Sea Level Rise

More information coming soon.

NSF Urban Water Innovation Network

Project B2-2b: Hydrology and Hydraulics of Urban Floodplains

Novel techniques for analyzing and designing urban drainage and floodplain systems for increased resilience to extreme events can ultimately provide an expanded footprint and palette for design of floodplain-greenspace networks that improve water quality, increase biodiversity, moderate temperatures, cleanse air, and enhance human well-being.

Current research efforts seek to better understand the interactions between flood flows and urban channels, floodplains and riparian zones as influenced by urban infrastructure and efforts to mitigate impacts of urban development, green infrastructure (GI), low impact development (LID), and sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) on flood response and other environmental consequences.

Flood characteristics to be studied include propagation of flood waves, inundation depth and areal extent, velocity and shear stress distributions, hydroperiod, and associated risks to life, property and infrastructure.

Additional links:

Urban Water Innovation Network

Thrust B

Project B2-2b

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

In 1997, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and the Department of Interior formed a unique partnership with  the goal of developing a shared approach for managing the Platte River. Water users from the three states and local and national conservation groups joined the effort. Together, these stakeholders developed an innovative approach for improving the management of the Platte — for the health of the ecosystem and the people that depend on it.

The Platte River Recovery Implementation Program is the result of that planning effort. The Program is focused on implementing this shared vision for creating and maintaining habitats on the Platte.

San Juan River Basin

Recovery Implementation Program

The purpose of the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program (Program) is to protect and recover endangered fishes in the San Juan River Basin while water development proceeds in compliance with all applicable Federal and State laws. Endangered species include the Colorado pikeminnow (formerly known as the Colorado squawfish), Ptychocheilus lucius, and the razorback sucker, Xyrauchen texanus. It is anticipated that actions taken under this Program will also provide benefits to other native fishes in the Basin and prevent them from becoming endangered in the future.

The specific goals of the Program are:

  • To conserve populations of the Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker in the Basin consistent with recovery goals established under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.
  • To proceed with water development in the Basin in compliance with Federal and State laws, interstate compacts, Supreme Court decrees, and Federal trust responsibilities to the Southern Utes, Ute Mountain Utes, Jicarillas, and the Navajos.

Additional Links:

San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program

SPARC Carinata

Southeast Partnership for Advanced Renewables from Carinata (SPARC)

Hydraulic and Water Quality Modeling

Brassica Carinata (Carinata) commonly known as “Ethiopian mustard” is an oilseed crop and it could be introduced as an off-season winter cover crop in the southeastern U.S. However, there is a need to assess the impact of carinata on water quantity and quality.  The main objective of this project is to model the potential influence of Carinata on water quantity and quality under plausible future scenarios of land use and climate to support evaluation of its co-benefits, life cycle costs, and economic viability.

The USDA Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is used to simulate and estimate changes in runoff and nutrient loads (N and P) to surface waters. SWAT provides an intermediate scale platform for integrating regional-scale surface runoff and groundwater information to evaluate scenarios of carinata production under alternative futures of climate and production intensity over seasonal, annual and decadal time scales in different types of water years and wet and dry cycles.

Watershed-scale impacts will be estimated with different implementation levels of Carinata (standalone and in combination with row crops or analogous crops). The output from SWAT simulations of alternative future cropping scenarios provides estimated changes relative to the baseline condition of average annual streamflow, surface runoff, groundwater contribution to streamflow, sediment yield, N and P loading to streams (from surface runoff and groundwater), and plant uptake to inform economic and life cycle analyses focused on large-scale implementation.

Additional link:

Images provided by SPARC


Community-enabled Lifecycle Analysis of Stormwater Infrastructure Costs (CLASIC)

Recently, federal policies seek innovative solutions for wet weather control (such as green infrastructure) that can confer multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF) is leading a project intended to provide communities with a tool that takes into account the costs associated with planning, designing, acquiring, constructing,  operating, maintaining, renewing, and replacing stormwater infrastructure. The results are expected to increase confidence in comparing benefits and costs of stormwater infrastructure alternatives using tools based on cost, design, and performance data sets and a peer-reviewed model.  

WE&RF Stream Restoration as a BMP

Stream Restoration as a BMP; Crediting Guidance

Stream restoration provides numerous benefits to ecosystems and communities in both urban and rural areas and may also provide pollutant trading and mitigation opportunities. This Crediting Guidance offers a general technical framework for quantifying the water quality benefits of a specific suite of stream restoration practices, focusing on sediment and nutrients. It can be used as a peer-reviewed technical guidance document to explore collaboration with federal and state regulatory agencies to improve the decision making on water quality trading and crediting of stream restoration benefits. Published by WE&RF. 120 pages. Online PDF. (2016)

Additional Links:

Project Details