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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.

Powerpoints and audio recordings are available.  Click on a session and scroll down to the attached files.
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Climate Change [clear filter]
Wednesday, November 15
 

8:40am

KEYNOTE Unveiling the Anthropocene—A Super Wicked Story
KEYNOTE Unveiling the Anthropocene—A Super Wicked Story

Humanity’s disruption of the planetary climate system represents an existential threat to an organized global community. This is the robust conclusion of an extraordinarily large scientific community, based on an observational dataset of unprecedented scale. And yet, global climate disruption is but one of a host of existential environmental challenges we face, all emergent from the same underlying pathologies. At this juncture, with an unprecedented opportunity to begin the transformation to a truly sustainable human civilization, it is critical that we address our challenges holistically, each in context of all the others. Fortunately, solid frameworks are emerging for doing exactly this.

Speakers
avatar for Robert Davies

Robert Davies

Physicist, Utah State University
Dr. Robert Davies is Associate Professor of Professional Practice with Utah State University’s Dep’t of Physics. Focusing on synthesizing and communicating a broad range of Earth- and human systems science through a lens of human sustainability, Rob has been communicating climate... Read More →



10:40am

Utah's Warming Climate and it's Increasing Flash Flood Threat
Utah's Warming Climate and it's Increasing Flash Flood Threat

Summary:
As Utah's climate continues to warm the threat of flash flooding looms large across much of southern Utah. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and as such, spawn more intense thunderstorms and heavy rainfall events. While rainfall rates and flash flood events are increasing, so is the amount of people exploring the desert southwest.

Full Abstract:
As Utah's climate continues to warm the threat of flash flooding looms large across much of southern Utah. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, and as such, spawn more intense thunderstorms and heavy rainfall events. While rainfall rates and flash flood events are increasing, so is the amount of people exploring the desert southwest. The combination of these two events bring an increased risk to the area. Brian will look at forecasted temperature increases to 2100 AD, and research showing how increased rainfall rates are increasing throughout the US and in particular, southern Utah. He will go over the physics of storm formation and how flash flood events are spawned.

Link to Powerpoint (with videos)

Speakers
avatar for Brian McInerney

Brian McInerney

Senior Hydrologist, National Weather Service
Brian is the Senior Hydrologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has worked at the National Weather Service for the past 28 years and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Montana. He is from Chicago, Illinois, and currently resides... Read More →



11:20am

Estimation of Future Sediment Load in the Jordan River
Estimation of Future Sediment Load in the Jordan River

Summary:
Climate change and urbanization will modify hydrological processes in mountainous watersheds. Associated increases in erosion and acceleration of sediment transport will have direct impacts on water treatment processes, reservoir management, and the life cycle of aquatic species.

Full Abstract:
Sediment load from a watershed impacts soil carbon dynamics, life of the aquatic systems, water treatment processes, and reservoir planning and management. Multiple factors including climate, local biophysical environment, topography, land use, and land management practice have direct and indirect effects on the sedimentation-loading rate. This study investigates how erosion and acceleration of sediment transport in a mountainous watershed respond to land use change and increased peak streamflow due to a higher intensity of precipitation and escalated snowmelt. Results are presented for future land use change and climate change in the Jordan River watershed, including projected changes in sediment loads in the Jordan River for the decades centered on 2040 and 2090. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) regional climate model was used to dynamically downscale future climate variables to 4-km horizontal resolution at hourly intervals under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 6.0 greenhouse gas emission scenario for 2090s, and additional climate forcing scenarios were obtained from statistical downscaling. Future land use was modeled using a spatial interaction model (business-as-usual growth) and a “regional vision” normative growth scenario with broad stakeholder currency (compact-growth). The runoff and water quality impact of the climate and land-use change scenarios were simulated using the HSPF model (Hydrological Simulation Program-FORTRAN). The results suggest that future precipitation in the watershed will increase ~20-30%, temperature will increase 1.5-6.0⁰C (depending on emission scenario), and snowfall and snowpack will decline by 25 to 50%. Impervious areas will grow by 19% and 3% in the business-as-usual and compact growth scenarios, respectively. The preliminary model results show that future annual sediment load will increase ~25-30% by 2040s and ~35% by 2090s. The results suggest that climate change will be the dominant driver, responsible for increasing sediment load by ~20-25% over the 2000 baseline; land use change is less significant, accounting for a ~5% increase. The presentation will also cover the estimated sediment loads considering multiple future changes scenarios (i.e. land use change alone, climate change alone, etc.). The learning objectives from this presentations will be to: (i) understand sedimentation building and wash off processes in a watershed, (ii) become informed on changes in future climate modeling and land use in Jordan basin, particularly with the HSPF model, and (iii) understand the impact of climate change and land use change on hydrological process and resulting indirect impact on the sedimentation processes in Jordan River. Keywords: climate change, land use change, hydrological modeling, sediment load, water quality

Speakers
KK

Krishna Khatri

Water Resources Engineer, Utah Division of Water Resources
Krishna is working for the Utah Division of Water Resources. He is also associated (adjunct Asst. Professor) with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah. Krishna holds a PhD degree in Water Resources Engineering, MSc in Water Resources Engineering... Read More →



12:50pm

Poster Session
The poster session is a forum for presenters from around the world to highlight programs and to share successful ideas with colleagues by presenting a research study, a practical problem-solving effort, an innovative program, and more. Poster presentations provide other conference participants an opportunity to quickly and easily become acquainted with a variety of topics.

Check the POSTERS tab to see all poster presenters!


1:40pm

Using Living Buildings to Achieve A Sustainable Water Future
Using Living Buildings to Achieve A Sustainable Water Future

Summary:
The world’s most rigorous standard for green buildings, Living Buildings don't just take less from the environment, they are regenerative and give back. This group presentation will discuss how Living Buildings can support local strategies for lasting sustainability, foster partnerships and achieve relevant solutions from a watershed perspective.

Full Abstract:
While much of Utah has recognized the value of green buildings, a cadre of groups seeks to challenge the boundaries of what it means to build green and how green infrastructure can help us achieve a sustainable water future in Salt Lake County. The Living Building Challenge (LBC), administered by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), is the world’s most rigorous standard for green buildings. Rather than striving to take less from the environment, Living Buildings are regenerative and give back to the environment. Being net-positive energy, collecting and treating all water on site, and eliminating toxic chemicals in building materials - providing a healthy environment for its occupants - are highlights within the certification program. As population growth and construction continue to increase in Salt Lake County, it is crucial for new and existing buildings to adopt regenerative building practices to ensure our limited natural resources can meet future needs. Living Buildings are an important step for creating a society that uses our precious energy and water supplies sustainably and the Living Building Challenge helps promote responsible growth in our communities while reducing the impact we have on our amazing rivers and other fresh water resources. This group presentation will discuss how Living Buildings can support local strategies for lasting sustainability, foster partnerships and achieve relevant solutions from a watershed perspective. This session will strive to be dynamic and interactive and will be offered by Utah’s local ILFI chapter, Great Basin Collaborative, comprised of a mix of businesses, non-profit groups and agencies including Architectural Nexus, Utah Clean Energy, and Utah Rivers Council.

Speakers
KK

Kenner Kingston

President, Architectual Nexus
Kenner was an early adopter of the USGBC’s LEED rating system and served as Nexus’ first Director of Sustainability. In addition to being the only Living Future Accredited Professional in the Great Basin, Kenner volunteers his time as an Ambassador Presenter for the International... Read More →
NS

Nick Schou

Conservation Director, Utah Rivers Council
Nick Schou has a M.S. in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah, a B.A. in History from Westminster College. Nick spent 5 years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in remote river canyons to restore endangered native fish species of the Colorado River. Nick... Read More →



 
Thursday, November 16
 

8:40am

KEYNOTE Salt Lake County's Climate Adaptation Plan for Public Health
KEYNOTE Salt Lake County's Climate Adaptation Plan for Public Health

The release of greenhouse gases into the earth's atmosphere has set the climate on a course to change drastically in the near future, and these changes are having a significant impact on human health in Salt Lake County. There is broad scientific consensus that climate change is occuring at a rate raste than previously anticipated, and is causing warmer temperatures, droughts, and more frequent extreme weather events in our region. It is important that we take action now, both to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to develop adaptation strategies that enhance the region's resiliency to the inevitable changes it will experience. Many responses to climate change could positively impact the region in multiple ways, simultaneously reducing the burden of disease, saving money, protecting the environment, developing community, and addressing inequality. Salt Lake County's Climate Change Adaptation Plan for Public Health will provide a plan for organizations in the Salt Lake region to respond to the health impacts of climate change, serving to build a healthier, more resilient community, and setting an example for other local health departments in Utah.

Speakers
avatar for Royal DeLegge

Royal DeLegge

Director, Environmental Health, Salt Lake County Health Department
Royal DeLegge has served as Environmental Health Director for the Salt Lake County Health Department since August 1999. Previously, Royal served as Director of Environmental Health for the Winnebago County Health Department in Rockford, Illinois and before that held various positions... Read More →



9:05am

Panel Discussion on Local Watershed Planning Efforts and Implementation in the Wasatch Mountains
Panel Discussion on Local Watershed Planning Efforts and Implementation in the Wasatch Mountains 

This panel will discuss local planning and implementation efforts along in the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake County as two major plans kick off updates. The panel will include discussion of the history of planning efforts for these mountain watersheds as well as emerging issues current planning efforts have yet to address. In addition, the discussion will include the coordination of the plan updates.


Moderators
avatar for Alan Matheson

Alan Matheson

Executive Director, Utah Department of Environmental Quality
Alan Matheson is the Executive Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and policy advisor to Governor Gary R. Herbert. He also served as State Planning Coordinator. Alan previously was an attorney practicing energy, natural resources and water law, and served as Executive... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Laura Briefer

Laura Briefer

Director, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities
Laura Briefer is the Director of Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities where she has worked for 10 years in various areas of the organization and has 23 years professional experience in natural resource and environmental professions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors... Read More →
avatar for Teresa Gray

Teresa Gray

Bureau Manager, Water Quality Hazardous Waste, Salt Lake County Health Department
Teresa Gray is the Bureau Manager Water Quality and Hazardous Waste for the Salt Lake County Health Department which consists of 19 programs.  She has been a Licensed Environmental Health Scientist for over 20 years. Her focus is on building partnerships. She has extensive knowledge... Read More →
avatar for Bekee Hotze

Bekee Hotze

Distric Ranger, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Bekee Hotze is the District Ranger for the Salt Lake Ranger District, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. She graduated from Northland College with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She worked for Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in fisheries and the Wisconsin DNR... Read More →
avatar for Wilf Sommerkorn

Wilf Sommerkorn

Director, Salt Lake County Regional Planning & Transportation
Wilf Sommerkorn is the Director of Regional Planning and Transportation for Salt Lake County.  He was Salt Lake City Planning Director from 2008 to 2014.  Prior to that, Wilf was Director of the Davis County Community & Economic Development Department for 14 years.  He was a planner... Read More →



10:20am

How’s our Watershed’s Health? Ask your Mouth-Feet and Mussels
How’s our Watershed’s Health? Ask your Mouth-Feet and Mussels

Summary:
Our poster children and ultimate metric of watershed health, native mollusks, are rapidly disappearing from Utah

Full Abstract:
When it comes to our watershed, do we want to strive for: world class health, average American sloth-like health, or “whatever the government decides, is good enough for me” health? Measuring and monitoring watershed health is by no means an easy task, however we propose that any valid SLC watershed doctor’s toolbox should include the ultimate metric; native mollusk population viability, particularly mussel population viability. We will discuss why native mollusks are so important to the health of our watershed based on findings from several years of field surveys and several decades pondering that age old question, ‘by Jimini, just how do we measure and monitor watershed health’? and conclude that viable native mollusk populations are the go to tools. We then provide initial guidance on how to use them.

Speakers
TM

Theron Miller

Research Scientist, Wasatch Front Water Quality Council
Another ancient druid
avatar for David Richards

David Richards

Research Ecologist, OreoHelix Ecological
Ancient druid



1:50pm

Calling All Collaborators: Robust Decision-Making & Climate Adaptation
Calling All Collaborators: Robust Decision-Making & Climate Adaptation

Summary:
Climate change and conventional stormwater management alters hydrology and water quality and creates uncertainty of water supply. USU researchers are developing a robust decision-making framework to use with stakeholders to identify strategies that reach stormwater management and harvesting goals under various environmental conditions.

Full Abstract:
Conventional stormwater management is centered on gray stormwater infrastructure (i.e., gutters and storm drain systems) that directs stormwater runoff to surface water. This infrastructure has led to changes in hydrology and water quality, such as reduced infiltration to groundwater and contaminated runoff. Additionally, climate change creates uncertainty of environmental conditions and consequently water supply for humans and ecosystems. Salt Lake Valley, and other snow-dominated regions, depend on snowpack for storage and supply. These regions are at risk due to reduced snowpack reliability, with climate warming causing more rain on snow events and changes in runoff timing, resulting in unreliable snowpack storage and stormwater run off leaving the area before it can be used. Our research team is interested in the potential of green stormwater infrastructure (i.e., bioswales, vegetated infiltration areas, rain gardens, subsurface storage and infiltration systems, and green roofs) to alleviate the impacts of gray stormwater infrastructure and climate change to facilitate stormwater harvesting in the Salt Lake Valley. One part of this project is to develop a robust decision-making framework to support sustainable stormwater decision-making and policy with uncertainty from climate change conditions. Robust decision-making frameworks are an iterative process where stakeholders are included at the initiation of the process. The process generally begins with stakeholders and researchers identifying potential policy and management strategies, uncertainties, risks, and goals. This is then followed by estimating the performance of the potential strategies across the uncertainties identified in the first step. The third step involves finding the conditions under which the potential strategies are vulnerable. Then, the performance of the potential strategies are compared. This process can continue until robust strategies that reach goals chosen by stakeholders and under various environmental conditions are identified. The framework for this project is still in the initial stages. The objective of this presentation is to outline the steps for a robust decision-making framework in the context of Salt Lake Valley and stormwater harvesting, as well as obtain feedback from stakeholders in the Salt Lake area.

Speakers
avatar for Liana Prudencio

Liana Prudencio

Graduate Researcher and PhD Student, Utah State University
Liana is a graduate researcher and PhD student at Utah State University in the Department of Watershed Sciences. She also has a BS in Journalism & Mass Communication from Iowa State University and an MS in Sociology from the University of Utah. Her research interests largely focus... Read More →