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Federal Water Tap, July 8: How to Make Strategic Cuts to Groundwater Monitoring Networks

Eliminate the Redundant
A U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist developed a model to help water managers decide which groundwater monitoring wells to cut in order to maintain quality data while reducing costs.

Jason Fisher tested his model, which is based on how chromosomes interact, on two groundwater monitoring networks in Idaho. The tool works in the negative rather than the positive. It helps pinpoint which wells to eliminate from an existing array so as not to see a spike in errors – but not how to build an ideal network from scratch.

“In a time of belt tightening we need to make these networks more efficient to save money,” Fisher told Circle of Blue. Look for a longer story on the report this week from Circle of Blue.

Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River Regulation
The commission that oversees waters shared by the U.S. and Canada will hold a series of public meetings next week about modifications to a new management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Under the new plan, water managers will allow a more natural pattern of water flows. The modifications are meant to assuage flood concerns. Comments are being accepted through August 30, via the above link.

Drought in the West
State officials in the western U.S. in charge of drought policy have diverse views on the highest priorities for drought planning and response, but they agree on a few things, according to a report from the Western Governors’ Association and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many states noted that better data on streamflow and soil moisture are necessary, as is information to help with wildfire preparation. Federal budgets cuts were also a concern. Texas, curiously, asked that NOAA stop using GRACE satellite data to produce groundwater depletion maps for the state because it claims the data are not accurate there.

Money for Water Systems
Advocates, policymakers, and financial types gathered last Monday at a conference on water-infrastructure financing hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Top agenda items included how to lure private capital into public infrastructure and how to finance green infrastructure, the natural systems that can regulate water flows.

Algae in Lake Erie
A large patch of algae is expected this summer in shallow western Lake Erie, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast. NOAA provides weekly updates on the bloom.

Hurricanes
The U.S. Geological Survey developed a tool for forecasting coastal erosion caused by hurricanes. The federal government’s top scientific outfit also released a research plan for Hurricane Sandy recovery.

Water and Agriculture
A U.S. Department of Agriculture research grant program will add a water component for fiscal year 2014. The three goals for the water “challenge” of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative are water security, nutrient management, and reducing the effect of chemicals on the landscape. To comment on the proposal, join the public webinar July 16 by registering with Terri Joya at tjoya@nifa.usda.gov.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

Author: Brett Walton  is a Seattle-based reporter for Circle of Blue. He writes our Federal Water Tap, a weekly breakdown of U.S. policy. Interests: Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Pricing, Infrastructure.

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