by Sinan Abood, Spatial Analyst – ORISE Research Fellow, USDA Forest Service Riparian ecosystems provide many physical, ecological, and biological functions of economic and social value, serving as the zone of interaction between streams and the terrestrial ecosystems around them. … Continue reading
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by Laurie Williams, Senior Planner/Watershed GIS, County of Marin, CA
The Department of Public Works of Marin County, CA (just north of San Francisco, CA) launched a watershed program to integrate flood protection, stream and wetland habitat restoration activities, fish passage, and water quality improvements. Instead of looking at flooding issues on a site by site basis, we solve flooding problems at a watershed scale, and employ solutions such as habitat restoration to reduce flood risks.
From the outset, we decided to base our stakeholder outreach, collection of scientific studies and technical reports, and dissemination of information from the Marin County Watershed Program website (http://www.marinwatersheds.org) in order to save paper resources, be more user-friendly, support community outreach and more efficiently advertise our updates than is possible with more traditional printed reports and documents.
Our website is the major repository of meeting notices, posted reports, and maps. Our website designer, Athena Design, chose a color palette to enhance and reflect the colors of nature: the blues of water, the greens of plants, and browns for earth tones; orange splashes complement the dominant blue. We use the palette extensively in producing the watershed maps, as well as for printed materials and PowerPoint presentations for a unified design.
Hydro scientists like us are commonly asked questions by policy makers and stakeholders like: “how do I know if this new well or new canal will affect the surrounding area?” or “Are my wells going to dry out because my neighbor built a new one?” One of the major challenges in GIScience to address these questions is to develop a tool that can translate the scientific understanding into easily understood, evidence-based policy or decision. We present plug-ins that work with ArcGIS Explorer Desktop (AGX): the ubiquitous WebGIS Analysis Toolkit for Extensive Resources (uWATER), and its extension: uWATER-Pumping Assessment (uWATER-PA) to accomplish these tasks. The uWATER package provides quick answers by visualizing the alternative developments for natural resource management in intuitive and simple approaches. We follow with a few examples of how policy makers can implement the uWATER package.
Using uWATER to identify the most vulnerable wetlands due to groundwater pumping
To find the vulnerable wetlands using uWATER, first, load the wetlands and modeled groundwater drawdown shapefiles into AGX. Then click the Refresh button on the uWATER interface, to display in the listbox all loaded shapefiles. Move the cursor to highlight the wetland shapefile, and then click the Select button to display some basic information about the selected shapefile in the uWATER interface. Use the radio buttons on the uWATER interface to select the spatial relationship for the query. Then select and employ for query criteria a second layer (the groundwater drawdown shapefile) from the dropdown list in order to enable the selection of alternative drawdown conditions (in this case, S_2050B representing drawdown at 2050 under a normal pumping scenario) for policy making. Finally, specify minimum and maximum attribute values (the range of drawdown) to employ in the query. Click the Identify Features button to show the final results.
The cells outlined in green denote areas having predicted drawdown between 5 and 150 feet by a numerical model. uWATER identifies in red the wetlands intersecting the green-outlined cells; these wetlands are the most vulnerable wetlands to the predicted groundwater drawdown in 2050.
Using uWATER-PA to evaluate the effect of a new pumping well on existing wells
The second example we’ll discuss shows how uWATER-PA can help a stakeholder evaluate the impact of a new pumping well. The figure below shows the “Data Input” tab on uWATER-PA interface. First, specify the computing unit, then, click on the “Add a well on the map using the cursor” button and add a new well with one click on the map area. Next, choose the desired impact radius and then import the preloaded hydrogeological parameters (i.e. transmissivity and storativity) and existing well shapefile from AGX.
Next, use the “Impact Assessment” tab to input some simple configurations of the new well: maximum and actual pumping rate and duration. After clicking the compute impact buttons, the uWATER-PA will evaluate the maximal and/or actual impact of the new well and the impacted area and existed wells using color coding adapted from the Homeland Security Advisory System.
An example result of uWATER-PA is shown in the following figure. The stakeholder can see the impact range on the map and by clicking the resulted cells or wells, the actual impact (approximate additional drawdown) will show in the pop-up window.
The uWATER packages (programs, example files, and users’ manuals) are free to download at http://www.isws.illinois.edu/gws/sware/.
Special thanks to Drs. Yu-Feng Forrest Lin and Yi-Chen Ethan Yang for contributing this post. Questions for Dr. Lin: firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions for Dr. Yang: email@example.com