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Agricultural News

Water Resources Center part of Five-year USDA Dam Project

Fri, 23 Jul 2021 09:38:47 CDT

Water Resources Center part of Five-year USDA Dam Project The Oklahoma Water Resources Center has contracted with the Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit to participate in a five-year research grant to update tools and guidelines regarding flood control structures. The project is in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The HERU, a one-of-a-kind research laboratory under the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, is located downstream of Lake Carl Blackwell and focuses on the development of designs for erosion control and flood control structures. The Oklahoma Water Resources Center helps to resolve regional and state water problems, as well as promote technology transfer and the application of research.

Oklahoma has the highest number of small watershed upstream flood control dams constructed by the NRCS with 2,107 dams, but over half of the dams have reached or exceeded their design life.

“The goals of the research grant are to develop engineering tools and to design guidance documents and computational software and applications for monitoring, inspecting and rehabilitating aging flood control structures in a collaborative effort,” said Sherry Hunt, an ARS research leader for the HERU and acting location coordinator for the Stillwater ARS location.

The Water Resources Center will work with the HERU to develop a cloud-based reservoir and levee monitoring network, along with software and GIS-based tools needed to support the network of dams. They will provide training on these new tools to water resource professionals throughout the U.S.

“This is a very critical issue for Oklahoma,” said Kevin Wagner, director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Center. “Our collaborative project will work to modernize the tools, applications and guidance needed to ensure the continued benefits of these structures.

“I look forward to working with the ARS HERU lab here in Stillwater,” he said. “They are nationally recognized for their research, and I have wanted to partner with them for years, so I am glad we have the opportunity to do so through this project.”

The research, funded at roughly $500,000 per year for the next five years, will include the hiring of a computer programmer, computer modeler, GIS specialist, science writer and data manager at OSU. These professionals will work with ARS scientists to support the development of digital data collection, analyses, storage, visualization and distribution tools and new and sensor-based monitoring systems. The project also will fund the participation of a graduate student and multiple undergraduate students.

“The Water Resources Center and the HERU lab share responsibility in addressing water resource concerns in Oklahoma, and we will work together to develop solutions for the water resources community at the local, state, regional and national levels,” Wagner said. “This project will strengthen and enhance the ongoing research of both ARS and OSU



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