Solution specific articles for Water & Environmental Resources.

The Cost of Climate Change Inaction

Lynker’s Water Resources Scientist, Ryan Spies, gave a presentation on “The cost of climate-inaction” at the TEDx 2020 Climate Countdown. TED Countdown is a worldwide movement to find ways to shift, more rapidly, to a world with net zero greenhouse emissions and tackle the climate crisis. Click here for the full presentation.  The Cost of Climate Inaction

Climate change will continue to increase our risks to extreme weather events. Businesses and communities are looking to understand what to expect in terms of damages, added expenses, and lost revenues in the coming decades. What is the cost of doing nothing in the face of climate change? We have the resources to explore this question – check out the State of Colorado’s Future Avoided Cost Explorer (FACE:Hazards). By understanding the dollar value price tag of future extreme weather events, we can make the financial case for investing in our resilience. This information will help us make data-driven decisions that will ultimately save money and help prevent hardships for our communities and economies.

 

Hydrologic Manuscript Published and Available!

Lynker is proud to announce the recent publication of “Signatures of Hydrologic Function Across the Critical Zone Observatory Network”, written by our Water Resources Scientist, Dr. Adam Wlostowski and his outstanding team of coauthors. This study characterizes hydrologic dynamics of fifteen catchments of the US Critical Zone Observatory Network where it’s hypothesized that our understanding of subsurface structure would illuminate patterns of hydrologic partitioning.  For the link to the early view of the manuscript in the Water Resources Research Journal, click here:

 https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2019WR026635

 

 

International Projects

Lynker has worked with many international clients over the years on interesting climate topics. Lynker staff serve in a variety of roles in this field.

Inter-American Development Bank, Climate Change

Technical Lead, climate change impacts in central America, Inter-American Development Bank (IADB, 2014-2015). Developed climate change scenarios for future precipitation extremes to help IADB quantify climate change impacts on transportation and water supply infrastructure.

 USAID Climate Change Coastal Infrastructure Impact

Workshop leader, Understanding climate change impacts on coastal infrastructure in Mozambique (USAID, 2013-2014). For a USAID project on climate resilient development, Dr. Wobus prepared materials on climate change for stakeholder workshops, facilitated in-country group discussions, and helped municipal stakeholders understand the impacts of climate change on their local planning.

USAID Resiliency Papers

Contributing Author, USAID climate resilient development papers (USAID, 2014-2015). Contributed to annexes on climate change impacts to the coastal zone and water resources, as part of the USAID Climate Resilient Development framework set of papers.

Chinese Environmental Planning Workshop

Technical Lead, natural resources damage assessment (NRDA) workshop for the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning (American Bar Association, 2011). Developed a workshop for Chinese environmental officials describing the process of NRDA, and presented three talks over a two-day workshop in Beijing

World Bank Climate Change Impacts to Transportation

Technical lead, climate change impacts to transportation infrastructure in Africa (World Bank, 2013). Assisted with the development of future climate change scenarios for an assessment of transportation system vulnerabilities in Africa.

Citizen Science Initiative on the Yakima River

While directing a watershed science research team (RGIS-CSI Pacific Northwest) at Central Washington University (CWU), Lynker’s Graeme Aggett won a USDA-CSREES grant to develop a citizen science initiative on the Yakima River to gain better understanding of the impacts of agricultural use and master-plan development land use changes on a reach of the Yakima River, a Blue Ribbon trout fishing river in Washington State.

Like many western US waters, the Yakima River has been dammed, dewatered for large-scale agriculture, and deforested. These impacts bring urgency to the need to understand the health of entire river system in order to better protect and rehabilitate them. The best way to gain this understanding is to measure the vital signs of a river through the whole watershed, yet monitoring many miles of river is an overwhelming task, one that cannot often be accomplished by academic scientists or government agencies alone. This project focused on attracting, educating and training citizen scientists in the basin to play a critical role in large-scale data collection to benefit the Yakima River. The key goal was monitoring water quality and quantity, species density, and, over time, climate-change impacts.

Data collected by citizens created windows into the health of the system and was analyzed by our team and others on CWU campus. The main purpose of the program was to inform protection and restoration actions through the collection of quality data that could be used to better understand the river’s condition. The group’s water quality monitoring followed five parameters: dissolved oxygen, pH, water and air temperature, turbidity and conductivity.Volunteers were prepared to collect water quality data with five hours of training and chaperoned site visits. All measurements were made in the field with relatively inexpensive equipment (except turbidity, in which a water sample is returned to the CWU Chemistry Department for measurement).

Volunteers also collected a variety of environmental observations at their site, including the presence of invasive species or unusual changes to the water, such as cloudiness – these observations have proven useful in conducting follow-up investigations and planning restoration projects. This citizen-based program proved valuable for developing partnerships that can perform targeted monitoring and analysis, this helping to improve the suitability of the river for recovering salmon by increasing stream flows downstream of dams, and improving riparian canopy. Data could also be used as evidence for a need to change flow regimes when negotiating hydropower dam relicensing permits.

Design for Restoration of James Creek between Jamestown and Left Hand Creek Confluence

Lynker, working with a team comprised of Otak, Ecos and Amec, developed a 30% stream restoration design for James Creek that supported a CDBG-DR implementation funding application and provided clear direction for detailed engineering and specifications. Lynker developed a conceptual model that describes and illustrates past, present and potential future conditions of the study sites from an ecological and geomorphic perspective.

Lynker then provided LWOG and stakeholders recommendations for appropriate restoration goals necessary to achieve a sustainable trajectory for the study reaches. The site conditions assessment was founded on a combined desktop and field investigation supported by development of a project specific GIS and subsequent spatial analysis. A project specific 1D (HEC-RAS) hydraulic model was developed in order to develop various design data products on demand (e.g. water surface elevations, stream velocities, shear stress and stream power). The model will be tightly coupled to Geo-RAS so that all these outputs could be rapidly developed and visualized spatially as a function of the selected design flow and in relation to stage and discharge through the reach.

Lynker then conducted field and desktop-based geomorphic analysis to assess key erosive and depositional processes and causes of lateral and vertical instability and existing controls in the study reaches, the results of this assessment being presented using Rivertsyles © to facilitate discussion of existing and proposed conditions. The team’s ecology specialist identified ecological restoration opportunities, Lynker’s design process built upon relevant prior analyses to assess the current and desired geomorphic condition to determine the most technically feasible and cost-effective resilient restoration alternatives that best matched stakeholders’ input, and technical and regulatory constraints.

Lynker then developed 30% designs to support a CDBG-DR implementation funding application, the designs providing clear direction for detailed engineering and specifications. Design development included geometries for compound channels that will provide fish habitat, cross-sectional stability, sediment conveyance, and overbank access across the range of design flows. The designs included revegetation options for optimal instream habitat benefit, long-term bank stability, and moderating water quality. Finally, the project team developed a draft monitoring and adaptive management strategy. A key part of this project was coordination with Boulder County and supporting LWOG with stakeholder meetings throughout the process of developing the design plans.

Lefthand Creek Watershed Master Plan

Lynker developed a watershed master plan to serve as a road map for rebuilding roads and bridges in the Left Hand Creek watershed, restoring the stream and protecting against future flood events. The plan included conceptual-level designs to illustrate recommendations for different river styles including headwater, confined valley with bedrock controlled floodplain pockets, limited floodplain, partly confined/wandering, unconfined/continuous floodplain and entrenched/residential. These designs were refined and approved by the Coalition. Throughout the process, the team kept the Coalition and the public informed and engaged through a comprehensive set of Coalition and community meetings and communications. Stakeholders interested in the future of the Watershed have a valuable statement of the status of the creek and a road map for selecting, funding and implementing long-term restoration projects. The plan was adopted by the Board in February 2015.

Llandegfedd Reservoir Optimization

Llandegfedd Reservoir is an off-channel reservoir operated by Welsh Water, located in Wales, United Kingdom. The reservoir is filled by pumping from the nearby River Usk and was operated to maintain full storage throughout the year, to maximize water supply availability. However, Welsh Water was interested in changing the reservoir operating rules to allow for more water in the river throughout the year, thus improving fish habitat and fishing conditions within the River Usk. Members of the Lynker team built a reservoir operations model to include inflows from the River Usk, pump station capacity, pipeline capacity, inflows from the local watershed, evaporation and precipitation, as well as releases (demands) from the reservoir. The reservoir model was designed using CRAM, which is a water allocation model, built as an add-in to Microsoft Excel. CRAM uses the out-of-kilter algorithm to efficiently compute the optimal distribution of water within a system. The Llandegfedd Reservoir system was optimized using the genetic algorithm add-in included with Microsoft Excel. This allowed for the optimization of the Llandegfedd Reservoir guide curve (normal reservoir pool elevation) subject to inflows, outflows and other system constraints.

The historical data for the River Usk was limited to 39 years of daily data, which was not long enough for a comprehensive system analysis, including the more stressful periods of drought. Therefore, a nonparametric stochastic daily streamflow model was developed using the k-nearest neighbor (KNN) algorithm, to extend the historical dataset and properly validate the optimized reservoir guide curve. The historical data set of 39 years of daily flow data was used to develop 500 simulations each 39 years in length that preserved the statistics of the original flow data.

The Llandegfedd Reservoir guide curve was optimized using the genetic algorithm within the CRAM system model, according to the historical inflows, demands, and constraints. The optimized reservoir guide curve was validated using the synthetic hydrology dataset developed as a part of the project. The final deliverable to the client was a reservoir operations model, synthetic hydrology, and an optimized reservoir guide curve, which provided for an increase in instream flows improving fish habitat, without significantly reducing water supply reliability.

Carlsbad Hydrologic Unit – Lagoon TMDL Monitoring

A monitoring program was developed for the quantification of phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorophyll-a, sediment, and bacteria within four lagoons located in the Carlsbad hydrologic unit in San Diego County. Water quality samples were collected throughout the duration of the one year monitoring period during dry weather conditions as well as wet weather storm events to accurately characterize nutrient loading within the lagoons.

Pollutograph grab samples and flow data were collected during storm events to calculate event mean concentrations, analyze first flush effects, and calculate load duration curves. Sample handling was consistent with EPA and California standards and included additional requirements set forth by the analytical laboratories. Samples were field filtered and preserved as necessary to preserve sample integrity and meet sample holding times.

Each lagoon was continuously monitored for flow, precipitation, temperature, specific conductivity, and turbidity which was to characterize the lagoons and calculate loading rates. The data from this project was to be used for the development of nutrient and sediment TMDLs within the lagoons. The project was funded by the stakeholders that have jurisdiction within the Carlsbad hydrologic unit.

Statistical Modeling to Study Climate Change Impacts on Municipal Stormwater Intensities

Lynker conducted modeling using the R statistical language to evaluate the effect of climate change on the Intensity-Duration-Frequency (IDF) curves used by Prince Edward Island to assess their municipal stormwater system.  Lynker obtained data and correlated specific climate variables with recorded storm intensities.  Once the ideal variables were selected, future projections of these variables from the Global Climate Models were used to predict the future distribution of the intensity and return interval of storm events.  These distributions were then used to evaluate the deviation from the IDF curves currently used by the municipality.

Development of Synthetic Hydrologic Records for Modeling Shasta Temperature Management

Lynker was tasked with developing synthetic streamflow records to be used for input to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Winter-run Life Cycle Model (WRLCM). A synthetic record of annual flow for the Sacramento River Index is needed for this application in order to construct a hydrology dataset that has a long period of record (i.e., 100 years) while also using a limited subset of the historical data period (1970-2014 – model calibration period).

Lynker implemented a well-documented Markov chain stochastic modeling approach to develop an ensemble of resequenced hydrology records. This stochastic hydrology method uses the empirical distribution of the historical data as a basis for simulating ‘new’ sets of flows using specific random or ‘probabilistic’ analyses. This results in sequences of data that are different from but consistent with the historical record.

Lynker performed a detailed analysis of the drought characteristics for each of the traces, and this report provides a summary of the methods and recommendations as to which simulated traces meet the criteria of ‘multi-year drought events consistent with historical conditions’ and which simulated traces meet the criteria of ‘more frequent multi-year drought events’.