Hydrology and Aquatic Resources Conservation Webinar Series

Brought to you by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Water Resources Community of Practice, the Hydrology and Aquatic Resources Conservation Webinar Series is intended as a resource for water resource professionals (biologists, hydrologists, and natural resource managers) in the Service and partner organizations. This series aims to keep the diverse group of professionals working to conserve our aquatic resources up-to-date by highlighting the latest aquatic conservation science as well as powerful hydrologic datasets, models and decision support tools. It also aims to connect the aquatic conservation community by showcasing successful approaches to the diverse work of its members, including aquatic conservation planning, mitigating impacts of development, restoring and enhancing aquatic habitat, and monitoring and mapping aquatic resources. View and register our upcoming webinars!

If you have a presentation that you think would be suitable for this webinar series, please view our Call for Presentations.

Hydrology and Aquatic Resources Conservation Descriptions

Comprehensive Geolocation of Preferential Groundwater Discharges Using Heat Tracing Techniques (00:53:58) Recorded May 15, 2019

Presented by Martin A. Briggs.

Discharge of groundwater to surface water bodies is often highly preferential in space, so that a relatively small fraction of the sediment/water interface controls the transfer of heat, gas, and dissolved chemistry from aquifer to channel. Therefore, preferential discharges are not well captured by random and transect-based sampling regimes, particularly at large scales. Recent advances in spatially distributed temperature sensing techniques using remote thermal infrared and direct-contact fiber-optic methods allow comprehensive detection of preferential discharge zones. We show how radiometric infrared data collected with small drones along mountain streams can be used to pinpoint discharges in rugged terrain that are easy to miss with ground-based surveys. Handheld infrared data are more practically collected from watercraft along lowland rivers, guiding geochemical and age dating sampling over 10’s of km in “real time”, such that discharging groundwater can be tied to watershed-scale numerical models. However, remote sensing with thermal infrared cannot penetrate the water column, so submerged discharges may be missed. In cases where niche groundwater-based aquatic habitat characterization necessitates subsurface detail, fiber-optic cables can be deployed along the sediment-water interface to collect fine scale (e.g. 0.25 m) temperature patterns over space and time. We debut a new graphical user interface software that can be used to quickly process fiber-optic data by calculating various statics that may indicate discharge processes, and by automatically plotting data in map view, efficiently enabling geolocation. The combined advances in sensor technology and post-processing software are bringing reconnaissance-based heat tracing solidly into the applied surface water/groundwater exchange characterization toolkit.   

Disclaimer: Most of the data images are preliminary and the interpretations not yet approved by the USGS. Non-approved data is noted on the slides.

Improving the science and management floodplain forests in the Upper Mississippi River System (00:56:18)Recorded:  October 17, 2019.

Presented by Molly Van Appledorn, USGS.

Inundation regimes drive the form and function of floodplain ecosystems in the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS). Despite their importance, inundation regimes have not been systemically characterized in spatially-explicit ways that would advance understanding of ecological processes or inform management actions in the UMRS. In this presentation, I will share work my colleagues and I have done to systematically describe inundation dynamics across 2.6 million acres of the UMRS in ecologically relevant ways and discuss how the model is being used by both research scientists and the management community. The model itself integrates topo-bathymetric terrains and 40 years of daily water surface elevations to summarize long-term patterns of surface water dynamics including inundation event frequency, duration, depth, and timing. Distributions of these attributes vary within and among multiple levels of river organization, including navigational pools and geomorphic reaches. Non-linear relationships among inundation regime attributes and their geospatial distributions likely reflect complex interactions among topographic, hydrologic, and anthropogenic constraints on flooding dynamics. The model is used by research scientists to understand the role of flooding in forest succession dynamics, to identify hydrologically sensitive areas, and to establish eco-hydro-geomorphic relationships. It is also being used by the management community to enhance communication, inform decisions, and develop restoration strategies in the UMRS. The variety of inundation model applications demonstrates the importance of spatially explicit inundation models for developing robust, process-based relationships that inform floodplain ecology and management.

The Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool: Assessing Aquatic Fragmentati (00:41:19)

Presented by Kat Hoenke, Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership.

Fragmentation of river habitats by anthropogenic barriers is one of the primary threats to aquatic species in the United States. In an effort to address this issue, SARP has been working with partners including USFWS to identify, prioritize, and remove barriers to aquatic organisms in the Southeastern United States through the Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Program. SARP has developed a comprehensive living inventory of dams and road stream barriers, detailed metrics to prioritize these barriers for removal or bypass, and has been working with partners within state-based Aquatic Connectivity Teams to incorporate on the ground information and implement high priority barrier removal or remediation projects. Through working with the Conservation Biology Institute and Astute Spruce, SARP's inventory and prioritization has been optimized and formatted into a user-friendly interactive tool for use by partners. The Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization tool (please link to: https://connectivity.sarpdata.com/ ) provides summaries of barrier densities within user specified areas of interest, and allows users to prioritize barriers for removal based on ecological metrics using various filters. The results provided by the tool help identify high priority projects to implement. This tool has allowed SARP’s partners to access information regarding barrier locations and attributes that were not readily accessible in a one stop shop prior to SARP’s work.


The USACE Engineering with Nature Initiative: Lessons Learned, Needs and Opportunities (00:55:14) Recorded July 23, 2019.

Presented by Todd S. Bridges, Ph.D.. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering with Nature initiative (EWN) combines research projects, field demonstrations, and communication activities to promote sustainable, resilient infrastructure systems by leveraging natural systems and processes. Unlike built structures using concrete and rebar, natural structures are resilient, adapting to changes in physical, biological, geologic, and chemical processes. The use of nature-based features in engineering design incorporates natural processes into the structure or project design, in order to take advantage of the resilient properties of natural systems. In addition, incorporating these practices reduces maintenance costs while providing ecosystem services. This webinar will provide an overview of the initiative, highlighting lessons learned, needs and opportunities for the future. The presentation will also highlight the publication Engineering With Nature: an Atlas that includes descriptions of 56 projects around the world and provides information on how to nominate potential future projects for Volume 2 of the Atlas to be published in 2020.   

Click here to view the presenter's slides.

Tools and training for assessing road-stream crossings and prioritizing replacements across the Northeast (00:55:38) Recorded April 17, 2109.

Presented by Scott Jackson and Cathy Bozek

Both a network of partners and a source of shared resources, the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) offers a collaborative framework for taking on the critical task of assessing and upgrading the hundreds of thousands of outdated road-stream crossings (culverts and bridges) across the Northeast region that represent barriers to wildlife movement and pose flooding risks to communities. The NAACC offers training in standard protocols for conducting assessments, online tools for prioritizing upgrades based on ecological benefits, and a database of road-stream crossings encompassing the 13 Northeast states. This webinar will highlight some of the tools, activities, and accomplishments of the NAACC, and explain how the US Fish and Wildlife Service and our partners are using NAACC tools to assess, prioritize, and upgrade road-stream crossings across the region. For webinar participants working in the Northeast, the webinar will provide an overview of resources that you and your partners can use, contribute to, and advance. For participants working outside the Northeast, the webinar will provide a comparison to the protocols and tools you already have in your region, or give insight into how similar resources could be developed in your area of the country.

U.S. Department of Energy Program and Tools to Support Sustainable Hydropower (00:00:00) Recorded November 20, 2019.

Presented by Dr. Ryan McManamay, Baylor University & Chris DeRolph, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Over the last decade, the Department of Energy Water Power Technologies Office has supported focused research to provide stakeholders tools and data needed to inform environmental studies and planning for existing and future hydropower development. Specifically, these resources include accurate assessments of the existing hydropower fleet, high-resolution assessments of future power potential from powering existing non-powered infrastructures and new development, as well as the potential environmental impacts and mitigation actions associated with those developments. Tools are available that provide a rapid means to conduct high-level environmental assessments in order to identify the most meaningful environmental issues, as to increase the efficiency of licensing activities. These resources are available through Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s HydroSource web platform and include geovisualization and mapping technologies. This presentation will give an overview of the data and tools, and their utility to environmental assessment.  

View, Focus, and Screen Ambient Monitoring Data with the Water Quality Indicators Tool (00:46:59) Recorded June 12, 2019.

Presented by Russell Wasem. 

The Water Quality Indicators Project integrates and normalizes available ambient monitoring data to help EPA, state, and tribal staff better identify water quality problem areas. EPA currently publishes information about the health of watersheds based on states’ assessments conducted under the Clean Water Act (CWA 305(b)) program. That data reside in EPA Assessment and Total Maximum Daily Load Tracking and Implementation System and contain information about impaired watersheds (CWA 303(d)). Because a large number of watersheds have not yet been assessed under CWA 305(a), EPA began the WQI project to fill in data gaps. Specifically by using ambient water data in the Water Quality Portal and comparing the WQP data to national or ad hoc water quality criteria (currently only nutrient concentrations). EPA used data analytic methods to stratify the WQP data and is now working to include data visualization tools that will help users display and assess the data. EPA envisions a wide-ranging set of uses for the data, including trend analysis, TDML development, and improved state and local permitting and compliance program administration.   

For more information on registering for an ECHO account to access the Water Quality Indicators Tool, click here.

Click here to view the presenter's slides.