SEPTEMBER 2019 VOLUME 21 • NUMBER 5
WESTERN WATER ISSUES COLLABORATION
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2 | VOLUME 21 • NUMBER 5
Water Resources IMPACT
8 Grit: An Element of Resiliency. Reflections of a Water Planner How is courage an element of resiliency? Sometimes it starts with the first few steps. Candice Hasenyager 11 Water Banking in Utah: Voluntary, Temporary and Local Utah’s growing population presents a number of opportunities and challenges. One daunting question is how one of the driest states in the country will supply water to a population that could nearly double by 2060? Nathan Bracken 13 The UtahWater Research Laboratory: Empowering Water and Environmental Research in Utah and Around the World Explore the Utah Water Research Laboratory from when the first water flow experiments took place in 1957 to today. Can you guess how much has changed? David Tarboton et al. 16 Great Salt Lake: To Be or Not to Be? Discover the challenges that Great Salt Lake is facing and how caretakers of the lake are striving to find a solution through collaboration. Nicholas von Stackelberg and Jake Vander Laan 20 Groundwater in the IntermountainWest: An Essential Resource Groundwater is an essential resource throughout the world. Learn how the Intermountain West has used, abused and improved in its management of this crucial supply. Delmas W. Johnson
OTHER FEATURES Messages 5
ABOUT THIS ISSUE Issue theme: Western Water Issues Collaboration Annual Conference Chair Guest Co-Editor: Candice Hasenyager, Assistant Director, Utah Division of Water Resources Guest Editor: Delmas W. Johnson, Sr. Project Manager, J-U-B Engineers, Inc. This issue of Water Resources IMPACT includes examples of the role of collaboration in various water management issues in the western United States. Because water touches so many interconnected systems and impacts multitudes of people, critical water decision making is much more effective in an environment of collaboration. The articles in this issue will touch on various sub-issues where working together is essential. The issue will commence with an introduction by Candice Hasenyager on the subject of collaboration in general water management practice. Nathan Bracken will then demonstrate how a new water policy of water banking is being accomplished through respectful collaboration. David Tarboton et al. will profile the role of the Utah Water Research Laboratory in accomplishing necessary research as part of the collaborative process. Nicholas von Stackelberg and Jake Vander Laan will address the terminal saline lake known as the Great Salt Lake and introduce impacts of concern. Finally, Delmas Johnson will address the essential role of groundwater in the Intermountain West in the context of lessons learns and improved management practices as a result of collaboration. Applications of the Surface Water Ocean Topography (SWOT) Satellite Mission - Faisal Hossain, Margaret Srinivasan, Alice Andral and Ed Beighley 27 What’s Up With Water: Guarding Waters from Source to Sink: From Ancient Gods to the Clean Water Rule - Eric J. Fitch AWRA Business 6 July JAWRA Highlights President’s Message Lisa Beutler, AWRA President 23 AWRA – Herbert Scholarship Award Winners 36 AWRA Future Events Columns 25 Guest Article - Building Pathways to Societal
About the Cover: Massive red rock formations in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah, Photo credit: Johnny Adolphson, iStock.com
VOLUME 21 - NUMBER 5 | 3
VOLUME 21 • NUMBER 5 • ISSN 1522-3175 PUBLISHED FOR: AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION
TECHNICAL EDITOR: Michael E. Campana Professor, College of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences Oregon State University firstname.lastname@example.org
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2019 AWRA OFFICERS AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS LISA BEUTLER President BETSY CODY
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Water Resources IMPACT is owned and published bi-monthly by the American Water Resources Association, PO BOX 2663, Woodbridge, VA 22195, USA. The single copy digital purchase rate is $17.00 (USD). IMPACT is a magazine of ideas. Authors, Associate Editors, and the Editor-in-Chief work together to create a publication that will inform and will provoke conversation. The views and conclusions expressed by individual authors and published in Water Resources IMPACT should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the American Water Resources Association. Mention of any trademark or proprietary product in works published in the Water Resources IMPACT does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the American Water Resources Association and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of other products that may also be suitable. Contact the AWRA HQ office if you have any questions pertaining to your membership status.For information on advertising rates and deadlines, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright ©2019 by the American Water Resources Association
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4 | VOLUME 21 • NUMBER 5
Water Resources IMPACT
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Fall Featured Facts
Lisa Beutler, President
SEPTEMBER IS ALWAYS A SPECIAL TIME OF YEAR with back to school activities, the change of seasons, and the anxious wait for a new water year and (for some of our members) budget year. Like most of our members, the American Water Resources Association (AWRA) team has a full calendar for the next few months, including wrapping up the final details for the Annual conference in Salt Lake. If you haven’t already registered, we are hoping just the photos in this Water Resources IMPACT issue will convince you that there is no better place to be in November. One highlight is sure to be the November 5th Night at the Museum with a special presentation by Eileen Quintana. As a young girl, Eileen lived on a Navajo reservation without running water and electricity. She will discuss the importance of water in the culture and history of Native Americans. Following are a few more of AWRA’s Fall activities. International Specialty Conference (September 16-18) By the time you receive this (barring some unexpected event) an AWRA contingent will be packing up to travel to Beijing, China for a conference on Water Security: New Technologies, Strategies, Policies, and Institutions. Co-sponsored by AWRA and The Center for Water Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), this conference will focus on water security and its importance for food security, conflict mitigation, and economic development, specifically in east and southeast Asia. We are expecting participants from around the globe for this important convening. A special shout-out goes to AWRA Board Director Zhuping Sheng for his leadership as conference co-chair and the wonderful conference team at CAS under the leadership of Shaofeng Jia , Deputy Director of Water Resources Center and Professor at CAS. For those that can’t make it, Zhuping advises that the submitted abstracts are already being sorted for a special issue of JAWRA and you can expect to see a few recaps in the November IMPACT issue. organizations and utilities in Imagine a Day Without Water for the last few years. The purpose of the annual event is to highlight the fact that some communities in America already know how impossible it is to try to go a day without water. The one-day focus creates opportunities to educate our networks and communities about the importance of water. Please consider participating in the day’s events. Coordinated by the Value of Water Campaign, participation is as easy as picking one or more of the following five steps: Save the Date: October 23, 2019 Imagine a Day Without Water AWRA has participated along with over 1,000 other
1. Engage on social media! Educate your network about the importance of water by posing the question, “What is the value of water in your daily life?” Use #ValueWater. 2. Host an event for your community. Provide hands on experiences and foster knowledge of this vital, invisible water infrastructure by hosting a facility open house, project site tour, or other public event. 3. Get water in the news. Communicate the message that valuing water, and the systems that deliver it, is an environmental, economic, and public health imperative. 4. Partner with a local public official. Water infrastructure investment enjoys broad bipartisan support. Share the Value of Water Campaign’s public opinion polling data with your local officials and encourage them to demonstrate their support. 5. Bring Imagine a Day into the classroom. A sustainable water future will depend on the success of our next generation of water leaders. Develop contests or curricula that engages students on the value of water and encourages them to share what a day without water would mean to them. Need more ideas? The campaign website has templates, talking points and more. at http://imagineadaywithoutwater.org. Membership Survey Over the summer a select group of members received membership surveys. We are in the process of reviewing the responses and fine tuning questions and will redistribute it to the full membership soon. There will be some fun incentives for those that take the survey. (Those that have already participated will also be eligible for whatever incentives are offered.) We really want and need member feedback so please make time to participate. Speaking of feedback, thank you to everyone that has already sent suggestions, concerns and affirmations. We really appreciate the time each correspondent took to do this and the valuable thoughts and insights they offered. Thank You As always, thank you for your membership and participation. If you would like to correspond directly drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOLUME 21 - NUMBER 5 | 5
Lisa Beutler at the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Conference July 14-17, 2019 One of the absolute joys of being AWRA President is visiting the State Sections. In July I was able to join the Georgia Section at a statewide conference they held in conjunction with several other water associations. The event started with a Georgia BBQ, Water for People fund raiser. If you are not familiar with Water for People, this non-profit was founded in 1991 by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) as a response to the increasing global water crises. Teams from water utilities, consultancies and other water related groups cooked up friendly (but very competitive), delicious entries for the opening night festivities. Ticket sales added up to an impressive donation to Water for People. Thank you to the Georgia Section and conference committee for a wonderful gathering and generous hospitality. ■
Lisa Beutler, President, AWRA, at the Georgia Association of Water Professionals Conference July 14-17, 2019
(JAWRA) CHINA VIRTUAL ISSUE
Check out the Journal of American Water Resources (JAWRA) China Virtual Issue!
This JAWRA China Virtual Issue will be available for free on September 13 through the end of October. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about food security,
conflict mitigation, and economic development, specifically in east and southeast Asia.
JAWRA is a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed journal, featuring original papers that examine the multidisciplinary and complex issues surrounding water resources. In publication for more than 50 years, the journal is the flagship product of AWRA.
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Water Resources IMPACT
HIGHLIGHTS - JAWRA AUGUST 2019 [access full table of contents here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/17521688/2019/55/4 ] CELEBRATING 55 YEARS OF JAWRA – SUSTAINED CONTRIBUTIONS TO IMPROVE WATER RESOURCES
ANOTHER INSTALLMENT of Celebrating 55 Years of JAWRA is presented in the August 2019 issue. The editorial highlights some contributions of JAWRA in the fourth decade (1995-2004) focusing on a set of trendsetting papers that defined the human dimensions of water resources and how the then burgeoning internet technologies and advanced data collection methods improved the development of decision support systems for collaborative stakeholder driven decision making. The virtual issue can be found at - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ toc/10.1111/(ISSN)17521688.JAWRA55. Featured Collection – Climate Change Solutions The climate change solutions featured collection guest edited by Drs. Aavudai Anandi, Christine Kirchhoff, and Venkataramana Sridhar presents eight papers that look at vulnerability of water systems to change. These papers focus on practical solutions to addressing how we should adapt to increasing climate risks and what barriers are in our way of mitigating the harmful impacts increased climate extremes can have on water resources systems. A few papers highlighted from the collection include: Paul et al. present a comprehensive literature review focused on Climate change effects on water quality, especially highlighting the changes in flow, temperature, and saltwater intrusion. They conclude the risks will vary in different regional and watershed settings and could present a risk to human health and the environment. Mullin and Kirchhoff study the preparedness of wastewater treatment plant operators’ adaptation to climate change. They find wastewater systems have diverse adaptive capacities and managers who deploy those capacities within an adaptive management framework create systems that are more resilient to storms. Ray et al. propose new advancements in the state of the art in climate change risk management, with emphasis on impact and likelihood aspects of multidimensional analysis. Their work updates the World Bank’s decision tree framework to assess climate risks by incorporating climate extremes and human dimensions. Featured Collection – National Water Model II The second installment of the National Water Model (NWM) featured collection was edited by Dr. Jerad Bales and includes three papers focused on: 1) Hyper-resolution modeling; 2) open-channel hydraulic routing; and 3) hazard communication to the public. Shastry et al . compare the simpler conservation of mass approach currently used in the NWM to a more
comprehensive conservation of momentum-based hydraulic routing model in the Neuse River Basin. Their study suggests the use of hydraulic routing improves,
albeit modestly, flood inundation forecasts in smaller streams. Godbout et al . evaluate the use of synthetic rating curves (SRC) currently used to estimate flood inundation in the NWM. Their study indicates while SRC are sufficient for large- scale approximation of inundation, they are not capable of modeling street-level inundation.
They propose a new method to improve the spatial resolution of flood indundation mapping. Featured Series – Optimizing the Ogallala Aquifer Water Use to Sustain Food Systems This installment of the featured series coordinated by Dr. Prasanna Gowda and edited by Drs. Ryan Bailey, Isaya Kisseka, and Xiaomao Lin include three papers focusing on the performance of AquaCrop and APEX models commonly used to simulate agricultural systems. Masasi et al. use field data from two sites in the Central and Southern High Plains to show the AquaCrop model is effective in simulating the response of sorghum to variable irrigation levels and can be used to study the impact of management practices on sorghum. Talebizadeh et al. report on the development of an open-source parallel computation package developed in R for capturing the dynamics of sensitivity and model performance indices in the APEX model. In addition to papers from the Climate Change Solutions and the National Water Model II collections and an installment of the Optimization of Ogallala Aquifer to Sustain Food Systems featured series, four other technical papers were included in the issue. There are several other articles tackling various water resources issues on the Early View section of JAWRA’s website. Jawra_v55_i4_issueinfo.indd 1
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FEATURE Grit: An Element of Resiliency. Reflections of a Water Planner
THE DESERT AIR BRUSHES OVER MY HAND as the car speeds along the highway and my sisters chatter in the background. My mind wanders to far-off times when my kids will be much older. So many questions arise. Will the population of Utah have doubled as it is predicted? Can my future grandkids ski in the winter? What occurred that we didn’t anticipate? What are the costs to our decisions? How will an unforeseen future unfold? Does the work we do today make a difference for them? This line of thinking is part and parcel to being a water planner for the State of Utah. Planning 50 years into the future is an uncertain business. You can’t be in the water planning profession and not have the word resiliency haunt you from one day to the next. I have been intrigued by this notion that there is some way to intentionally create resiliency in our water future. Resiliency in its most basic definition is the capacity to absorb and recover quickly from difficulties. Maybe an element of courage or grit if you prefer John Wayne movies. Intentionally creating resiliency is a bit of a daunting task for water planners and suppliers. There are many variables that are difficult to anticipate, account for and the way they may change is hard to predict. Striving to create this elusive resiliency, we are seeking to be vigilant, flexible, and open to new perspectives. Vigilance . Being vigilant requires us to be watchful of the accuracy of our assumptions and a significant amount of planning. In Utah, there have been many ongoings that are improving our planning efforts. In 2013, Governor Herbert gathered water experts to collect input from the public and to make recommendations for water policy-makers. He also announced the creation of the State Water Strategy Advisory Team (Advisory Team). The Advisory Team developed a 50-year water strategy for the future management of Utah’s water resources called the Recommended State Water Strategy (Water Strategy). The Advisory Team included members of Utah’s legislature, state and local water managers, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. A Legislative Audit was performed in 2015 on the water use data that the state collects. It was found that the state did not have reliable water use data on which to base its conservation progress calculations and future demand projections. The audit recommended improvements to data collection processes, including utilization of a consultant to evaluate the state’s data and processes. A Third-party Analysis was conducted of the processes and methodologies and they made data collection recommendations that have been implemented. Our water use
(Photo credit: Trisha Hussey
data continues to improve which is essential for good planning. This data is now available on an open data site (water.utah. gov/opendata) and updated annually. We are also working on several planning projects including the development of Regional Water Conservation Goals, updating the Drought Response and Recovery Plan and a new State Water Plan that incorporates the Water Strategy effort. Flexibility . Creating flexibility in our systems is being done in several ways. A scenario-based water demand model has been developed to incorporate the many variables that affect our municipal and industrial water supply and demand. This model includes a range of population projections, various water use categories, persons per household, lot size, green space, and evapotranspiration—to name a few. Various scenarios are being incorporated into the new State Water Plan to understand the sensitivity and range of our water future. To allow for more flexibility in our water rights, a diverse group of stakeholders are working to study innovative ways of water
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Water Resources IMPACT
management including local water banks. These water banks are being proposed to facilitate the voluntary and temporary transfer of water by allowing water users to place water rights or shares that they may not use into the bank for another user’s potential use. Another ongoing effort is researching agricultural optimization. The research is about answering the simple but complicated question, “What water and agricultural management practices can maintain or increase agricultural production while minimizing impacts upon water supply, water quality and the environment?” The two areas of research include the advancement of irrigation technology and implementation in Utah and the quantification of agricultural water supply/demands (Figure 1.). Getting a New Perspective One of the ways that I have witnessed resiliency being created and nurtured is through collaboration. As people collaborate on the tough issues that we are facing, it gives us an opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. There are several examples of ongoing collaboration in Utah including the Regional Watershed Councils, State Water Plan Advisory Committee and the many groups involved in Great Salt Lake issues. Regional
(Photo credit: Candice Hasenyager)
development of the new State Water Plan including setting the goals, values, actionable recommendations and an overall review of the plan. Their efforts and participation in the plan have been critical to the success of a more well-rounded and resilient plan. Great Salt Lake faces an uncertain future with the effects of continued population growth and the corresponding
What water and agricultural management practices can maintain or increase agricultural production while minimizing impacts upon water supply, water quality and the environment?
What irrigation and agricultural management practices can increase water productivity in Utah?
How can quantification be improved to improve water management and increase water productivity?
How do the practices affect the communities, water supply, water quality and the environment where they are implemented?
increasing water supply demand and a changing climate. There are many individuals from all different interests that are on the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council, Great Salt Lake Technical Team and Great Salt Lake Integrated Water Model (GSLIM). Looking at the lake from all of these perspectives ensures that the concerns are included in all aspects of the research and management of the lake. The looming question that is a constant is, “Are we there yet?” In my opinion, no. Being vigilant, flexible and recognizing new perspectives is a good jumpstart toward building resiliency in our water future, but it is not the end. I hope we have a little
Research Area 1 Advanced Irrigation Technology & Implementation in Utah
Research Area 2 Quantification of Agricultural Water Supply and Demands
2.1 Retroactive Case Study of Emory County Effort
1.1 Literature Review
2.2 Review of Current Water Quantification Practices, Gaps, and Needs
1.2 Optlmltlng Water Use with Pivot and Drip Irrigation Methods 1.3 Optlmlzlng Water Use with Surface Irrigation Methods
2.3 Water Quantifiatlon Pilot Program
Figure 1. Research areas 1 & 2
grit as we move into the future. John Wayne said it best, “True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done. No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows he should have done.” ■ Candice Hasenyager is a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) and the Assistant Director at the Utah Division of Water Resources with over 12 years of experience in water resource planning. The views expressed herein are solely the opinions and perspectives of the author and does not represent official policy of Utah Division
Watershed Councils are found in many parts of the country which allow for local participation and input into water policy and management decisions. The Water Strategy recommends that regional watershed councils be developed for the State of Utah. A group of stakeholders have been drafting legislation that would establish these regional watershed councils. These councils could give stakeholders an ongoing forum where they can participate in the process to research, evaluate, and recommend water supply, demand, and quality management strategies within a region. The forum will engage interested stakeholders in addressing water needs and water planning. The State Water Plan Advisory Committee is a group of engaged stakeholders who represent a variety of interests from policy to environmental considerations that are guiding the
of Water Resources. Utah Division of Water Resources, PO Box 146201, Salt Lake City, UT, 84114-6201, USA Contact: email@example.com
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SAVE THE DATE | November 9-12, 2020 AWRA’s ANNUAL WATER RESOURCES CONFERENCE
JOIN your fellow water resource industry professionals at AWRA’s 2020 Annual Conference. LOCATION Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista South 4955 Kyngs Heath Road Kissimmee, FL 34746
One of the most diverse and inclusive conferences in water resources management , AWRA provides you with innovative, practical, and applied water resource management solutions, management techniques, and current research. Hear lessons learned from the implementation of multidisciplinary projects, best practices in design and application of water resource management, and implications of water policy decisions, and research into current and emerging issues.
AWRA members save on all conference registration rates.
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Water Resources IMPACT
FEATURE Water Banking in Utah: Voluntary, Temporary, and Local Nathan Bracken
UTAH’S GROWING POPULATION presents a number of opportunities and challenges. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges is the question of how one of the driest states in the country will supply water to a population that could nearly double by 2060. To address this challenge, Governor Gary Herbert convened a multi-stakeholder group of experts in 2013 to develop a set of recommended strategies that could inform the development of a 50-year water plan. In 2017, Governor Herbert’s team issued a recommended strategy that calls for Utahns to work together to provide clean and affordable water to sustain communities and businesses, while also supporting robust agriculture, ample recreation, and a resilient and healthy natural environment. To this end, the strategy identified a number of potential recommendations Utah could use to satisfy its growing water demands. It also identified water banking as a key tool that could support a variety of recommendations focused on supporting agriculture, improving water quality, facilitating water markets and temporary transfers, and improving instream flows.
Banks do this by providing a transparent and accessible forum in which willing right holders can advertise the availability of their water rights for lease so that interested parties can secure the temporary use of the rights quickly. A key benefit of water banking is that it allows a water right to be used for multiple uses without changing the underlying ownership of the right and allowing the right holder to use the right for its original purpose after a lease has expired. If deployed correctly, water banks could provide an alternative to so-called “buy-and- dry” water transfers in which water rights are permanently transferred away from agriculture to supply urban demands. In addition, water banks could serve as a market tool that facilitates low cost, voluntary, and temporary transactions that provide both income to water right owners and greater access to water for a variety of uses, including environmental uses, through spot market transactions. For instance, a farmer who does not want to farm for a given season could deposit a water right in a bank and receive passive income for the right until such time as the right is
needed. Conversely, a farmer with a junior priority right that is usually curtailed in late summer but wants to do a third or fourth cutting of hay in a particular year could lease water from a water bank for the months the water is needed rather than incurring the expense of permanently acquiring an additional, more senior water right. Within the context of urban needs, a public water supplier experiencing a drought or other temporary stressor could lease the water needed to address the passing shortage instead of permanently acquiring water rights that it will not need in most years. Recognizing the potential benefits of water banking, the Utah Legislature unanimously passed SJR 1 in March, requesting recommendations for the 2020 legislative session on how the state could develop a voluntary water banking program to carry out the goals of the Governor’s recommended water strategy. Sponsored by Senator Jani Iwamoto
(Photo credit: The Bear River, photograph courtesy of L. de Freitas)
Water banking is a flexible concept and exists in many forms in other western states, such as Idaho, Washington, and Kansas. Informal banking already exists in Utah to some extent, often in the form of lease pools and other such programs offered by certain water companies. In its most simplistic form, a water bank facilitates the transfer of water from one use to another.
and Representative Stewart Barlow, the resolution stated that any water banking recommendations should recognize that the majority of water rights in Utah are agricultural in nature and incentivize the participation of agricultural producers. Among other things, the resolution expressed support for the continued study of how water banking could support
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instream flows. Recognizing the potential costs of this request, the Legislature also appropriated $400,000 to support the continued study of water banking. Notwithstanding the recent passage of SJR, a large and diverse multi-stakeholder group of over 50 water professionals has already been working for nearly two years to study water banking. Participants include FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, representatives from the State Engineer’s office and other state water management agencies, the Utah Farm Bureau, the Utah Department of Agriculture, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, and many others. For almost two years, this group has studied water banks in other
states and analyzed key watersheds around Utah to understand how water banking may work in Utah. As a result of its studies, the group has identified the following consensus guidelines that it believes will be needed for any water banking program to be effective in Utah: • Voluntary: no one should be required or forced to participate in a water bank. • Local: water banks should be created and organized at the local level, with appropriate state oversight to ensure that banks are operated property and do not injure right holders. • Temporary: water rights should only be placed into banks on a temporary basis and right holders who deposit water rights must maintain ownership of their rights. • Prior Appropriation: the priority rights of banked water rights should remain unchanged and banked rights should not be subject to abandonment and forfeiture. • Low Transaction Costs: water banks should not be expensive or burdensome. • Efficient Transactions: water banks should be easy to understand and execute. • Access: water banks should promote equal access to banked water. • Non-Exclusive and Complimentary: water banks should not impede but support other water marketing or sharing efforts. Currently, the group is developing term legislation that would allow right holders to create water banks for their local regions during a specific period of time, during which the banks will be studied and assessed. The group is also preparing to begin a slow and steady but robust public outreach and education effort throughout Utah to solicit input, comments, and concerns regarding the draft legislation and water banking in general. To test the concepts it develops, the group will implement pilot projects and is in the process of applying for a federal
(Photo credit: Heber Valley and Mount Timpanogos, photograph courtesy of L. de Freitas)
WaterSMART grant to leverage the Legislature’s $400,000 appropriation for these efforts. Notwithstanding its potential benefits, water banking is not a panacea and additional tools and approaches will be needed to satisfy Utah’s growing water demands and to carry out the goals of Governor Herbert’s recommended water strategy. Nevertheless, water banking has the potential to fulfill a number of the goals of this strategy, including preserving agriculture while facilitating access to water for a variety of purposes, including environmental uses. For more information on Utah’s water banking effort, including updates on the water banking group’s efforts, please visit: firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ Nathan Bracken is a partner at Smith Hartvigsen, PLLC, where he practices water law and local government law, with a focus on public policy. He is also a member of a collaborative multi-stakeholder group working to develop a water banking program for Utah. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the water banking group or of Smith Hartvigsen and any of the persons or entities it represents.
Smith|Hartvigsen, PLLC, 257 East 200 South Suite 500, Salt Lake City, UT 84111 Contact: email@example.com
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Water Resources IMPACT
The Utah Water Research Laboratory: Empowering Water and Environmental Research in Utah and Around the World David Tarboton, Carri Richards, Mac McKee, Alfonso Torres-Rua, Bethany Neilson, Blake Tullis, David Rosenberg, David Stevens, Jeffery Horsburgh, Joan McLean, Michael Johnson, R. Ryan Dupont
When the first water flow experiments took place in 1957 along the Logan River at the future site of the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) at Utah State University (USU), who could have guessed that within 50 years, UWRL researchers would be flying computers in the sky, improving the design and function of dams around the world through physical and computer models, and developing hydrologic information systems to help manage and interpret huge volumes of data from a variety of sensors in a range of formats collected by and shared among a nationwide community of hydrologic researchers? Yet those types of research and many more are precisely what have made the Utah Water Research Laboratory a leader in water and environmental research and one of the most respected facilities of its kind. This article illustrates some of the history and research accomplishments at the UWRL addressing water problems disciplinary collaboration, as is promoted by the AWRA. Institutions such as the UWRL are an important part of the nation’s research infrastructure and are critical to generating the knowledge needed to solve those water problems. History The Utah legislature authorized the establishment of a water research in Utah and around the world and demonstrating the value of cross-
Utah Water Research Laboratory, Logan, Utah (Photo credit: Jessica Griffiths, UWRL)
laboratory can divert flows of up to 250 cfs (cubic feet per second) through the lab for detailed large-scale models of dams and spillways, along with other hydraulic testing.
laboratory at USU in 1959. The 80,000 ft 2 UWRL building was started in 1963 and dedicated in 1965, making it one of the oldest and largest university-based facilities in the United States, developed to research better ways to measure, monitor, model, understand and manage water resources. An environmental quality wing built in 1980 broadened the disciplinary capabilities of the lab to add chemistry, microbiology, and analytical instrumentation to the hydraulics and water resources facilities already present. The hydraulic modeling and testing facilities were expanded in 2009 with the addition of a new 11,000 ft 2 recirculating flow hydraulic modeling building. Hydraulic Modeling The UWRL uses numerical and scaled physical models to evaluate hydraulic structure design and performance (e.g., spillways, bottom outlets, pump stations), as well as identify and solve hydraulic deficiencies. State, national, and international projects have utilized the UWRL hydraulic structures modeling services to ensure proper function and public safety. Located adjacent to the Logan River, the UWRL hydraulics
Figure 1.(a) 1:45 scale model of Lake Isabella labyrinth spillway (Photo credit: UWRL, Blake Tullis)
Figure 1.(b) 1:50 scale model of the damaged Oroville Dam spillway (Photo credit: USU, Matt Jensen)
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Water Resources Management Collaborative and interdisciplinary research at the UWRL over many years, including early work on severe sustained drought in the Colorado River basin, snowmelt modeling, and Utah waterways, has laid the foundation for projects that are still advancing the study of water resources management in many key areas. Colorado River: A new project led by Jack Schmidt in the USU Watershed Sciences department, including UWRL contributions in modeling components for water temperature, water resources systems, and hydrology, is building on decades of previous work in the basin. Bear River: This interstate basin (WY, ID, UT) has inspired numerous UWRL studies, with recent efforts on synergistically managing water and vegetation to improve habitat for birds at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and improve aquatic, floodplain, and impounded wetland habitat throughout the lower Bear River. Another project is helping local and state managers plan for and manage future droughts by providing monthly streamflow reconstructions from regional tree ring chronologies and climate indicators that date back to the 1400s. The Great Salt Lake: Multi-disciplinary work over many years has increased understanding of this closed basin lake that is iconic for Utah and a barometer for the condition of water resources in the state. The amount of water in the lake fluctuates dramatically, driven by streamflow, precipitation and evaporation. Salinity, critical for the brine shrimp and salt harvesting industries varies with level too. Of particular concern is the effect of increased consumptive water use in the basins draining to the lake, and UWRL computer models for lake level, salinity, and flows through the causeway that partitions the lake are key parts of multi-disciplinary work to predict future fluctuations and their impact on the lake ecosystem, economy and environment. Snowmelt: The Utah Energy Balance (UEB) snowmelt model, a parsimonious physically based model, was developed to simulate snow accumulation and melt accounting for variability in topography and vegetation. It has been applied
Hydrologic Observatories: UWRL researchers have built and maintained high-frequency data collection systems leading to a better understanding of key hydrologic processes, more accurate models, and ultimately better management decisions. In 2012, the National Science Foundation funded a 5-year, multi-institution, interdisciplinary program called iUTAH (innovative Urban Transitions and Arid region HydroSustainability) that focused on water sustainability in Utah and established environmental sensor networks across the state. The Logan River sensor network has become the Logan River Observatory (LRO), with streamflow, water quality,
widely, and as far away as Nepal, where it was used to simulate glacier melt. Instream Flows for Ecosystems: The UWRL is working with state and local water and environmental managers and legislators to examine water laws and policies that traditionally only incentivized agricultural and municipal water supply, hydropower generation, mining, and navigation and make changes to allow these stakeholders to manage and allocate instream flow in ways that also benefit ecological needs. Measurements and Sensing Long-time UWRL Director Mac McKee often stated the axiom “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Figure 2. One of AggieAir’s fixed-wing UAVs. (Photo credit: Jessica Griffiths, UWRL)
and weather stations throughout the watershed from the headwaters through Logan City and into the Cache Valley, supporting multiple lines of research. Environmental Understanding and finding sustainable solutions to water challenges that result from the innumerable interactions between humans and water requires an integrated engineering and science approach. Environmental research at the UWRL emphasizes the quality of land, water, and air and combines basic and applied laboratory and field research. Research encompasses topics from the effects of copper and zinc oxide nanoparticles on wheat roots to
Applications using high-frequency data collection systems, sensor networks, satellite data, and multispectral sensors aboard unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are just a few ways UWRL researchers are harnessing the power of direct measurement and remote sensing. AggieAir: The UWRL developed the AggieAir unmanned remote sensing platform in 2006 to respond to the needs of water, environmental, and civil applications for high-resolution, multispectral scientific imagery (Figure 2). It has become an exceptionally capable, scientific-quality, small, unmanned aerial data collection system in support of precision data collection (Figure 3).
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Water Resources IMPACT
biofiltration of Utah’s drinking water, turning food waste into energy, and more. Storm Water Management and Green Infrastructure: One UWRL research study is evaluating vegetation types that survive in bioretention areas in the Intermountain West for a low-tech, plant-based treatment approach to safely release stormwater from urban areas back to the environment free of hazardous metals and polluting nutrients in a low- cost, environmentally sustainable way. Hydroinformatics The increasing flood of sensor data presents both a challenge and an opportunity for researchers. The volume of data produced far outstrips our ability to use it effectively with conventional data management and analysis tools. However, UWRL researchers have been key participants and leaders for over a decade in the development of CUAHSI’s (The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences, Inc.) Hydrologic Information Systems, which help researchers manage and interpret the data they collect and provide technology to enhance collaboration. Key contributions follow. The Observations Data Model: The initial CUAHSI Observations Data Model and subsequent ODM2 were developed to consistently describe, store, manage, and encode spatially discrete observational datasets for archive and transfer over the Internet, across scientific disciplines, and in the domain cyberinfrastructures within which they are stored. HydroShare: This web-based Hydrologic Information System enables researchers to more easily share data, computer models, and research results in a variety of formats to help manage, organize, and interpret the extensive data available (https://www.hydroshare.org/). HydroShare supports the growing trend for open data that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR). Future Opportunities and Directions The UWRL has evolved into a diverse center of excellence for generating knowledge related to water challenges. It fills an important role in the US/global
Figure 3. AggieAir collaborated with E&J Gallo Winery, USDA-ARS, and NASA on the GRAPEX, “Grape Remote sensing Atmospheric Profile & Evapotranspiration eXperiment” project, producing high-resolution imagery to improve high-value agriculture by mapping the spatial variability of crop water use and water stress.
community of water research facilities, with the interdisciplinary expertise to develop better ways to measure, monitor, model, understand, and manage 21st century water resources. Good water management recognizes the value of information from many disciplines—from how a single water molecule behaves to the constraints and opportunities created by state or national water laws and policies. The increasingly collaborative nature of research generally requires a team—a community—to gather information from the many disciplines needed to advance understanding and solve problems. Building connections to other research facilities will bring the UWRL’s unique capabilities to bear on future water challenges. Even with the exciting new technological advances in fields such as remote sensing, cyberinfrastructure, information management, and “big data,” it has been and will continue to be the hard work and dedication of students, faculty, other professionals and the community who push the boundaries to advance the field of water resources management, in all its complexity. ■
David G. Tarboton is Director of the UWRL and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Utah State University. He has 29 years of experience at USU and leads the interdisciplinary research efforts of faculty, staff and students at the UWRL. Utah Water Research Laboratory, Utah State University Civil and Environmental Engineering, 4110 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-4110, USA Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Co-Authors: Carri Richards, Mac McKee, Alfonso Torres-Rua, Bethany Neilson, Blake Tullis, David Rosenberg, David Stevens, Jeffery Horsburgh, Joan McLean, Michael Johnson, R. Ryan Dupont all at the Utah Water Research Laboratory.
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FEATURE Great Salt Lake: To Be or Not To Be? Nicholas von Stackelberg and Jake Vander Laan
THE GREAT SALT LAKE (GSL) , the vast body of water that stretches north and west of the capitol city of Utah, has significant economic, ecological, and cultural importance to the region and beyond. However, it faces an array of stresses common to saline lakes throughout the world that challenge its ability to fulfill its uses and values, and threaten its very existence. Fortunately, awareness of the lake’s importance and susceptibility is increasing, and collaborative efforts are underway to protect the lake into the future. The GSL is one of the last, best open spaces proximate to the rapidly growing urban corridor where the majority of Utahns live. A place where you can witness an impossibly long vista of the Basin and Range, commiserate with birds on layover from all reaches of the hemisphere, and experience a million dollar sunset from a secluded shoreline. The strangeness of the place draws one to its unique intrigues: a lunar landscape with reddish-purple water and white-capped domes in the North Arm, open waters with just the right salinity to support a thriving brine shrimp fishery in the South Arm, and freshwater wetlands teeming with waterfowl along its eastern
strongly to a changing climate. The GSL resides entirely within one state, but its watershed extends into three states. This means the lake has been managed largely without the federal and regional resources typically associated with such a large body of water. As such, it has not received the scale of national and international attention and resources bestowed upon other critically important water- bodies such as the Great Lakes or Chesapeake Bay. The lake faces several challenges and threats that have made its future viability a growing concern. The Salt Lake City and Provo metropolitan area continues to experience high population growth, projected to push Utah’s population above 5 million by 2050. Since peaking in 1986, lake elevation has steadily declined, achieving a near-record low in 2018 (Figure 1). Historical diversions and consumptive use of water for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes was estimated by one study to have lowered the lake 11 feet from natural levels, with proposals to increase diversions in the future. Several large-scale mineral extraction activities enhance evaporation of water. Given the lake’s large surface
shores. The intrepid visitor who ventures into the water will float weightlessly on the effervescent hypersalinity. A salinity driven density stratification results in portions of the lake being underlain by a monimolimnetic deep brine layer. There are several engineering marvels, including the Lucin Cutoff (a 102- mile railroad causeway), land-fill causeways that subdivide the lake into four distinct-yet- connected entities, the West Desert Pumping Project (which briefly created a second salt lake in the 1980s), and the Behrens Trench, a 21-mile underwater canal that ingeniously uses density gradients to convey water to evaporative ponds. The bottom of a terminal basin, GSL
Figure 1. Surface water elevations for Gilbert Bay of Great Salt Lake since 1960. The historic low lake elevation of about 4191 feet occurred in the fall of 1963. A historic high of nearly 4212 feet was subsequently observed spring of 1986. Since 1986, lake elevation has steadily declined. The lake nearly hit a new historic low in the fall of 2018. Lake elevation data from USGS NWIS database (https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis).
aggregates and reflects back to us the human activities within its watershed. Year over year, it sums the ledger of diversions and consumptive water use for agriculture, industry, and society. It remembers and only slowly forgets the pollutants discharged to its waters and the years of untreated sewage and industrial wastes disposed there during the pre-Clean Water Act era. The diminutive remnant of Lake Bonneville, evaporative losses from its large surface area react
area, evaporation is expected to accelerate with increased temperature under climate change. Water quality is also of concern, with the potential for increased loads of toxic compounds and nutrients.
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