Here are several of the unique innovations Lynker has brought to US and global water and environmental resource management.
In response to the devastating flood of September 2013, the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed hired Lynker to develop a flood recovery and resilience master plan for the Lower Poudre River.
The master planning effort combined scientific and engineering analysis with community collaboration to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve river resilience and river health. Components of the master plan included reach-by-reach analyses of changes to the historical channel, assessments of geomorphological and ecological values, identification of vulnerabilities, and sediment transport modeling. Lynker led a multi-faceted team of geomorphologists, ecologists, modelers and designers to create an informative, user-friendly master plan that provided recommendations through the project area.
The 36-mile-long project area showcases Lynker’s ability to develop river restoration projects through community outreach and adaptive priorities. The planning process included an extensive public outreach effort that drew on landowners and local community experiences to pinpoint vulnerable areas and important assets. Based on these meetings, a cultural aspect of the community was accounted for when developing restoration projects. Illustrative conceptual designs were developed for the high priority reaches while taking into consideration ongoing projects within the reaches. The master plan and sediment model developed for the Lower Poudre River are intended to be continuously evaluated during future planning actions or assessments to make reach-scale decisions that can help inform the solutions that may be best for a reach.
Lynker provided hydrologic, hydrometeorological, and reservoir model calibration support to the National Weather Service through the various River Forecast Center offices around the country. This ongoing task focuses on developing and optimizing watershed and reservoir models for more accurate streamflow and involves processing gridded and point-sourced hydrometeorological data for use in water balance analysis and model applications.
The primary component of the project is the calibration, evaluation and operational implementation of models for use in the NWS river, flood, and drought forecast practices. An essential element of the project involved configuring/designing the hydrologic workflows and visual displays within the Flood Early Warning System and Community Hydrologic Prediction System software structure.
The Town of Jamestown Colorado was hit hard by a devastating mix of slope failures, debris ﬂows, and ﬂooding during September 2013, resulting in a fatality and damage to 20 percent of the town’s building stock, its roads, bridges and potable water system.
As a part of the recovery effort, Lynker developed a stream corridor master plan for the Town that serves as a road map for rebuilding the town, restoring the stream, and protecting against future events. The Lynker team conducted the science and engineering components of the project, including hydrologic and hydraulic modeling and development of a new (post-flood) Base Flood Elevation map for the town. They also performed public outreach to the residents, presenting technical and other information at public meetings and leading one-on-one meetings with the community aimed at understanding their needs and desires with regards to stream restoration and hazard mitigation, and explaining design concepts and alternatives. Lynker is currently leading the Natural Resources Conservation Service-funded Emergency Watershed Protection work in Jamestown aimed at protecting the town from further damage during spring-runoff.
Under a retainer with the City of Boulder, Lynker provides expert water rights focused on assessing the quantity and timing of depletions to Boulder Creek and the South Platte River flows.
In support of the City, Lynker provides review and independent analysis for numerical modeling of conjunctive use and consumptive use analysis for technical memos and expert reports as litigation support. Work includes analysis of certain water court cases and State Engineer proceedings to which the City of Boulder is a party.
Lynker, under contract with the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, provides oversight of regional groundwater model development of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. In addition, Lynker provides litigation support through technical memos and expert reports of groundwater modeling of aquifer management and mitigation plans, consumptive use analysis, analysis of historical water use data, and other water rights applications.
Lynker developed and assists in the maintenance of the Aurora, Colorado Raw Water Supply System Model which was built using the CRAM modeling framework hosted in Microsoft Excel. Staff at Lynker have been working with Aurora since 2003 on this model of their multi-basin water supply system. Ongoing tasks have included adding new CIP features, performing analysis of what-if scenarios and sizing of potential future facilities.
Lynker has added new reservoirs, treatment plants, and water-reuse/recovery facilities to the CRAM model and it was used for the recent Integrated Water Resources Master Plan created by Aurora Water. In addition, Lynker provides training and customization as requested for the modeling platform.
Lynker staff have supported the City of Boulder’s water supply planning efforts since the 1990’s with the implementation of CRAM to model their raw water supply system. Since 2003, the City of Boulder has incorporated climate change assessment into its water supply planning model, most recently in a NOAA-sponsored study initiated in 2006 and completed in 2008. Lynker staff completed model runs with climate-adjusted model forcings (climate adjusted natural flow and irrigation demands) to analyze system performance under future hydrologic conditions. In 2016 Lynker extended the CRAM modeling period of record to 2016 to include the 2012 drought conditions and updated the climate change analysis to include the Colorado River Water Availability Study Phase II climate adjustments to hydrology for the Boulder Creek watershed.
Lynker developed and calibrated CRAM models for the Red River Basin, Verdigris River Basin, Muddy Boggy River Basin, Blue River Basin, and the North Canadian River Basin from 2010 to 2015. Since then we have worked with OWRB and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to update model operations to conform to USBR management of individual reservoirs within the basins. The modeling work for the river basins includes flow naturalization for the basin, simulation of pipeline transfers, reservoir operations, evaporative losses, and groundwater pumping. Lynker staff also worked on Oklahoma’s Comprehensive Water Plan, which provided a detailed analysis of water supply and demand throughout the state by watershed projected to 2060. Our work on the Comprehensive Plan included a climate change analysis, calculating adjustment factors for flow and consumptive irrigation requirement (or irrigation demand) for 2030 and 2060, which were then used to adjust natural flow and historical evaporation.
The Colorado River Water Availability Study (CRWAS) was commissioned by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to study the changes in water supply and demand moving into the future. The first phase of the work was completed in 2012; and a second phase was completed in 2015. An important component of the study was analyzing the impacts of climate change on future streamflow for the Colorado River (CRWAS Phase I) and later the entire state (CRWAS Phase II). CRWAS Phase I utilized statistically downscaled GCM outputs in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 3 (CMIP3) archive, which included 112 projections of future model forcings (temperature and precipitation) from different models and initial conditions. The “Delta” approach was used to map changes derived from the GCM outputs onto historical daily weather to develop projected weather forcings. Baseline conditions (historical weather) and projected weather were used to force the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic model. Comparison of VIC outputs for these two cases gives changes in runoff that were mapped to historical natural flows through a second application of the Delta approach. The use of the Delta approach reduced model bias (from the GCMs and the VIC model) and allowed the work to be based on long-term historical records with which the project stakeholders are familiar and comfortable.
An innovative approach was used to combine change signals for future weather with variability informed by long term (1,200-year-long) records of flows reconstructed from tree rings. The current Phase II effort has updated the results of Phase I to include GCM outputs from 97 projections in the CMIP5 climate change projection archive (a total of 209 runs), and to develop a new and superior approach to developing a small set of planning scenarios. CRWAS Phase II outputs have been provided in a ⅛-degree grid and at the 10-digit Hydrologic Unit (USGS HU), so as to provide readily-accessible climate change data for localized watersheds.
Lynker completed a climate-change impact analysis for a confidential client in California. The purpose of the study was to provide climate-impacted hydrology (streamflow, irrigation water demand) for a future planning horizon. Our team provided a low-cost solution by utilizing existing Bureau of Reclamation Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5) climate change runs processed through the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrologic model. The future climate-impacted hydrology from 2020-2049 (streamflow, evapotranspiration) was compared to a baseline hydrology from 1970-1999, to determine a monthly set of “change factors” for water supply and water demand (streamflow and irrigation water demand, respectively). The change factors were applied to the historical hydrology datasets to create climate-adjusted timeseries for streamflow and water demand, which were used to evaluate future water supply conditions.
The Chatfield Watershed Authority requested a modeling solution that would aid in tracking sources of phosphorus from the watershed and allow for the evaluation of management decisions. Lynker teamed with an experienced engineering firm to complete the project which included a thorough model selection process, data collection of hydrologic and water quality data, data gap analysis, and building and calibrating a HSPF water quality model. The model was built to track total phosphorus loading to Chatfield Reservoir so that best management practices could be implemented to reduce total phosphorus concentrations. Model development included the collection of model input data (precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, wind speed, land use, soils data, etc.), watershed delineation, as well as point source loading data. The hydrologic component of the model was calibrated using USGS streamflow data, while the water quality processes were calibrated using grab sample data provided by the Chatfield Watershed Authority. The model is used to connect with the Chatfield Reservoir model to complete management scenario analyses in the future.
Since the spring of 2018, Lynker has been supporting the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) with restoration planning for coastal marsh restoration in the Barataria Basin. Tasks include coordination between CPRA and the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group (established as part of the Deepwater Horizon settlement) and preparing restoration planning documentation to comply with National Environmental Policy Act and Oil Pollution Act regulations. Senior Lynker scientists also supported CPRA in technical analyses to support restoration planning and permitting for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project, which will reconnect the Mississippi River to the Barataria Basin to provide a sustainable source of sediment to replenish marsh habitats.
From 2010-2015, Lynker personnel assisted the State of Louisiana with data analysis and modeling to support the NRDA for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Tasks included quantification of miles exposed to shoreline oiling using novel GIS and geostatistical methods, quantification and documentation of accelerated coastal erosion rates due to oiling based on shoreline monitoring datasets, assistance with the development of a hydrodynamic model of oil fate and transport in Louisiana bays, and development of techniques to quantify the extent of water column toxicity to early life stage fish in offshore waters.
For the US Department of Justice, a Lynker scientist provided technical litigation support for several cases related to Clean Water Act jurisdiction in a variety of different environments. In each case, the legal question was whether particular waters affected by contaminant releases were jurisdictional under either or both of the standards put forth in the 2006 Supreme Court decision in the Rapanos v. United States case. decision from the U.S. Supreme Court Tasks included review and synthesis of relevant environmental and hydrologic data, site visits, preparation of expert reports, and deposition testimony.
In the wake of the September 2013 Jamestown flooding and ensuing damage, the Town of Jamestown, Colorado has been working to improve early warning systems for the Town. This project assessed the current systems in place to provide early flood and rainfall warnings and proposed improvements to that system. In addition, the Lynker team developed a desktop analysis of rainfall and geographic data from the 2013 flood events to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing rain/stream gauge network and flood early warning system near Jamestown. Lynker also conducted site visits to evaluate potential locations for new rain gauges.
During the analysis, our team explored numerous geo-spatial data products (point, line, polygon, and raster) for the James Creek watershed to fully understand the meteorological and hydrological response of the basin. Using the spatial data products, we developed a comprehensive heat map of the James Creek region to highlight regions of preferential gauge placement. The tool provided the foundation for examining locations for potential gauge placement.
Our staff performed field site assessments within each of the 4 regions of the watershed identified in the analysis. Preferential gauge sites were located and documented for further review (e.g. GPS coordinates, site photos, and parcel information). We also performed a live transmission test at each field location to evaluate the communication signal strength.
Upon final evaluation of the existing gauge network, site visit analysis, budgetary overview, and communications with emergency management personnel, the Lynker team developed a final recommendation for a new rain gauge location that provides enhanced basin rainfall coverage and the highest likelihood of advanced warning lead time during heavy rainfall events.
For more than eight years, Lynker scientists have supported the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in developing national-scale analyses to estimate and quantify the economic impacts of climate change on multiple sectors. We have developed customized models to quantify the impacts of climate change on the downhill skiing industry; damages from inland flooding events; and extreme heat metrics across the United States. Each of these studies has been published in the peer-reviewed literature, and the majority of the results were used to support the National Climate Assessment.
A Lynker scientist under contract with the NM State Engineer’s office developed a MODFLOW numerical groundwater model and a NETPATH geochemical model to characterize the Salt Basin aquifer in southern NM. Environmental tracers and geochemical evolutions were used to delineate recharge zones, identify groundwater flow paths, characterize fracture flow, estimate groundwater flow rates and permeability. Radiocarbon dating of groundwater was used to calibrate the MODFLOW model for estimates of annual recharge and a determination of appropriable water for administration by the State.
In alignment with the State of Colorado’s commitment to address changing climate conditions, Lynker was contracted by the State to assist in updating Colorado’s Drought Mitigation and Response Plan. Project deliverables included the production a fully updated mitigation and response plan in compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements for enhanced state hazard mitigation plans and the Emergency Management Accreditation Program standards. In addition, Lynker provided an updated drought vulnerability assessment which provides the necessary basis for an updated and comprehensive mitigation strategy. The plan is an element of meeting FEMA enhanced state plan requirements and will also guide the State in determining risk and vulnerability of assets and how to mitigate impacts.
Critical to the update of the plan was an analysis of events since 2013, actions taken during those events, improved integration of the relationship between climate change and drought in Colorado incorporating the latest science and a review of monitoring and mitigation activities.