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Thank you to everyone who attended the 11th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium! This free two-day conference encourages a comprehensive review of the current state of our watershed while creating learning opportunities for a diverse array of stakeholders. Sessions covered a broad range of topics on water quality and watershed issues with local, regional, and national relevance. Hosted by Salt Lake County Watershed Planning & Restoration.

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"The Symposium is tremendously important to the future of all of Utah. You guys are educating stakeholders across Northern Utah in an objective, user-friendly way about issues, problems and concerns that are not being discussed publicly anywhere else."  -Zach Frankel, Utah Rivers Council


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Wednesday, November 15 • 3:20pm - 4:30pm
Critical Outcomes, Lasting Impact: 5 Years of Science for Utah's Water Future [70 min.]

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Critical Outcomes, Lasting Impact: 5 Years of Science for Utah's Water Future

In this series of 5 presentations, research and education/outreach leads for iUTAH, a statewide, NSF-funded infrastructure-building project, present important outcomes and lasting impacts of the research, training, education and outreach activities conducted by iUTAH's 800+ current and former participants, 10 participating institutions of higher education, and over 100 partner organizations.

Full Abstracts:
* denotes presenter

I. Transcending system boundaries through integrative ecohydrologic research
Dr. Zachary T. Aanderud*, Brigham Young University, Amber Spackman Jones, Utah State University, Jeffery S. Horsburgh, Utah State University, David Eiriksson, University of Utah, Dylan Dastrup, Brigham Young University, Christopher Cox, Utah State University, Scott Jones, Utah State University, David Bowling, University of Utah, Jobie Carlisle, Utah State University, Greg Carling, Brigham Young University, and Michelle A. Baker, Utah State University

The effects of urbanization on water quality vary in time and are extremely hard to capture. Further, in the semi-arid Western U.S., variable snowpack levels due to a warming climate, seasonal flows from agriculture run-off, and unprecedented population growth and water use in metropolitan areas may create rapid changes in water quality. To more fully understand the temporal impact of urbanization on water resources, we created a real-time observatory network spanning three watersheds in northern Utah which possess similar climates and a common water source, mountain winter-derived precipitation, but differ levels of urbanization. The aquatic monitoring stations in the GAMUT Network include sensors to measure chemical (dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, pH, nitrate, and fluorescent dissolved organic matter, (fDOM)), physical (stage, temperature, and turbidity), and biological components (chlorophyll content and phycocyanin) logging every 15 minutes. As fall transitioned to winter, our high frequency water quality data captured runoff events in urbanized areas carrying pulses of nutrients and organic matter to rivers. In Red Butte Creek, the most urbanized of the GAMUT watersheds, pulses of fDOM occurred 22 times over a three-month period, sometimes lasting up to 3 days. By comparison, levels of fDOM remained relatively constant around 30 quinine sulfate units (QSU) in the Provo River and 1.5 QSU in the Logan River over the same time period. Further, urbanization led to more blooms demonstrated by Red Butte Creek experiencing 236 cyanobacteria blooms, measured as changes in phycocyanin. Over the same time period, 75 green algal blooms occurred, which increased chlorophyll-a concentrations an average of 313% per day compared to days without elevated levels. Photosynthetic pigment spikes were also present in the Provo River from mid-November to the end of December but to a much lesser extent (33 algal and 11 cyanobacterial). Our findings suggest that the built infrastructure, high percentages of impervious surfaces, and multiple storm drain outfalls that often accompanies the urbanization of rivers may lead to the flashier changes in water quality.


II. Innovations and integration in social and engineering water science
Dr. Courtney G. Flint*, Utah State University

iUTAH’s social and engineering water science investigated the drivers of water and land use management in the Wasatch Region Metropolitan Area as well as how natural, built, and social structures interact in the water system. We explored the potential for green infrastructure to improve water sustainability and modeled the impacts of urban growth and planning. Using innovative methods for integrating data representing water perspectives, alternatives, and actions across a diverse set of stakeholders, we have informed decision-making throughout Utah’s water system.


III. Coupling the human-natural water system: five years of participatory modeling and innovative visualization
Dr. Courtenay Strong*, University of Utah, and Dr. Sarah E. Null, Utah State University

iUTAH research on coupled human-natural water system modeling builds on Utah’s strengths in hydrologic modeling to enhance forecasting capabilities for water managers and stakeholders. Our teams have created new models and linked previously disparate models and data sets to investigate system processes and future water outcomes focused on supply, demand, quality, and ecosystem services. New capabilities include agent-based modeling of households, a framework for decadal-scale water supply criticality analysis, the HydroCouple Software framework which enables linkage of diverse modeling frameworks, methods for optimizing strategies for infrastructure changes such as water barrier removal, and impactful visualization technologies.

 
IV. Cyberinfrastructure to support large scale, collaborative water research in Utah: critical outcomes from the iUTAH project
Dr. Jeff Horsburgh, Utah State University, and Amber Spackman Jones*, Utah State University

iUTAH (innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability) is a statewide effort focused on water sustainability in Utah. Synthesis of diverse data collection and modeling by cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional research teams, such as those working on the iUTAH project, requires storage, software, networking, computational, and human resources. Over the past 5 years, our team has built cyberinfrastructure to support the full data life cycle and increase capacity for data collection, organization, management, sharing, synthesis to higher-level products, and integration with models. iUTAH cyberinfrastructure is comprised of hardware and software systems that have enabled iUTAH researchers and partners to share data, models, and other digital resources. This includes cyberinfrastructure deployed for management of streaming sensor data from iUTAH’s Gradients Along Mountain to Urban Transitions (GAMUT) network of aquatic and terrestrial monitoring sites, databases and web applications supporting publication of water quality and biological data derived from samples, tools for interactive dissemination of extensive social science survey datasets, and a sharing and publication workflow for the various other types of data collected by iUTAH researchers. In this presentation, we describe the challenges associated with creating cyberinfrastructure to support a research project of this scale, which are not unique to iUTAH, but are faced by many collaborative scientific groups. We describe how iUTAH Cyberinfrastructure coordinates across Utah universities, including provisioning hardware that enables hosting of data publication and sharing services as well as data storage resources for redundancy and for High Performance Computing. We also describe the hardware and software platforms that have improved data access and new tools for collaboration among iUTAH participants.


V. Advancing a water-literate workforce and citizenry for Utah
Dr. Mark W. Brunson*, Utah State University, and Ellen Eiriksson, Utah State University

Utah has both incentive and opportunity to lead the nation in innovative solutions for water management and sustainability. A critical component of iUTAH’s mission has been to help build a foundation for innovation in sustainable water management through education and outreach programs that can train students to meet the challenges facing our state while increasing awareness of those challenges by Utah residents. iUTAH’s Education, Outreach, and Diversity (EOD) activities have encompassed the work of four teams – Workforce Development, External Engagement, Diversity Enhancement, and Communications – whose efforts are designed to have lasting impact

Moderators
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Andreas Leidolf

Assistant Director, iUTAH EPSCoR
Andreas (Andy) Leidolf received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry/Wildlife Management from Mississippi State University in 1995. He pursued his graduate education at Utah State University (USU), where he received a Master of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Ecology in 1999. He served as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track) of Biology and Environmental Science at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, from 2006-2007. Prior to that, he had been involved in teaching and research at... Read More →

Speakers
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Zachary Aanderud

Associate Professor, Brigham Young University
Dr. Zach Aanderud is an Associate Professor of Microbial and Ecosystem Ecology at Brigham Young University. His research links temporal fluctuations in resources to microbial community structure and ecosystem services. This overarching theme has inspired questions relating to the... Read More →
avatar for Mark Brunson

Mark Brunson

Professor, Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University
Mark Brunson is a professor of Environment and Society at Utah State University and director of education, outreach, and diversity programs for iUTAH. His research explores how and why human behavior affects, and is affected by, the natural environment, including ongoing study of... Read More →
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Courtney Flint

Professor, Utah State University
Dr. Courtney Flint is a Professor of Sociology at Utah State University. Her research focuses on community and regional response to environmental disturbance and risk as well as the integration of social science and environmental science to address natural resource related vulner... Read More →
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Amber Jones

Research Engineer, Utah State University, Utah Water Research Laboratory
Amber Jones is a research engineer at the Utah Water Research Laboratory at Utah State University with background in watershed hydrology, water quality, and environmental information systems. She has played an integral role in development and implementation of cyberinfrastructure... Read More →
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Court Strong

Associate Professor, University of Utah
Court Strong is an Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Utah. His research focuses on atmosphere-cryosphere interactions, where the cryosphere is the frozen part of the climate system including mountain snow pack and sea ice. He studies climate change u... Read More →



Attendees (26)