California already has drought problems, but mountain snowpacks in the state are really low this spring and that will prevent reservoirs from filling. Since melting snowpack is a major contributor to California’s water there will likely be more water shortages this summer unless more rail falls.
An Oxford University study reports that large dams typically require about 8 years for construction and have average cost overruns of nearly 100%. By the time they are finished the needs of their region have often changed and the unanticipated expenses might make the total cost too high.
After a landslide blocked the north fork of the Stillaguamish River near Oso, Washington there is a concern of upstream flooding as water backs up above the slide debris and a downstream flooding concern if the landslide-created dam is breached.
“Researchers at MIT and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) have developed a mapping technique that measures how much a river network is changing, and in what direction it may be moving.” Quoted from the MIT video release.
“The heat from warm river waters draining into the Arctic Ocean is contributing to the melting of Arctic sea ice each summer. [...] NASA used satellite data to measure the surface temperature of the waters discharging from a Canadian river into the icy Beaufort Sea during the summer of 2012. They observed a sudden influx of warm river waters into the sea that rapidly warmed the surface layers of the ocean, enhancing the melting of sea ice.”
“In a case study of dams on the upper Missouri River, USGS researchers have demonstrated that an upstream dam is still a major control of river dynamics where the backwater effects of a downstream reservoir begin. In light of this finding, the conventional understanding of how a dam can influence a river may have to be adjusted to account for the fact that effects of river dams can interact with one another.” Quoted from the USGS press release.
“Arizona makes up a tiny fraction of the land surface on Earth. However, it has had a comparatively larger impact on the evolution of geologic concepts, especially in three areas of geologic inquiry: (1) porphyry copper deposits, (2) metamorphic core complexes, and (3) evolution of large rivers.” Quoted from the Arizona Geology article.
Watershed Decisions Activity Board and Components Penn State Image
“Watershed Decisions” is a hands-on, inquiry based activity from Penn State that helps older youth and adults learn about water quality issues surrounding small watersheds. Designed for use in classrooms, educational programs, youth groups, municipalities, watershed associations and other groups.
“This fact sheet presents a brief overview of groundwater and surface-water resources in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana. Information on the availability, past and current use trends, and water quality from groundwater and surface-water sources in the parish is discussed.” Quoted from the USGS press release.
Did you know that approximately 117 million people – over one-third of the total U.S. population – get some or all of their drinking water from public systems that rely in part on headwater, seasonal or rain-dependent streams?
“Remnants of fluvial sediments and their paleovalleys may map out a late Oligocene–early Miocene “super-river” from headwaters in the southern Colorado Plateau, through a proto–Grand Canyon to the Labrador Sea, where delta deposits contain microfossils that may have been derived from the southwestern United States.” Quoted from GSA Today article titled: Late Oligocene–early Miocene Grand Canyon: A Canadian connection?
The court house at Berkeley Springs, Morgan County, West Virginia has an unusual geothermal system. It removes water from a local stream, pumps that water through a heat-exchange system and returns the water to the stream. Open-loop systems connected to a stream are rare.
On Monday, the Glen Canyon Dam is scheduled to start releasing up to 37,200 cubic feet of water per second – that is an Olympic-sized swimming pool worth of water into the Colorado River every two minutes. The goal is to imitate a natural flood that will deliver sand to beaches and refresh river habitats.
“Nitrate levels in the Illinois River decreased by 21 percent between 2000 and 2010, marking the first time substantial, multi-year decreases in nitrate have been observed in the Mississippi River Basin since 1980.” Quoted from the USGS press release.
In 1987, Thailand built a dam on the Khlong Saeng river. As the reservoir filled it transformed over 100 forested hilltops into islands. Now each island, along with its plant and animal inhabitants, is an experiment to test what happens with a forest environment is fragmented.
Ethiopia is building a hydroelectric dam on the Nile River. Downstream Egypt is concerned about a loss of water through evaporation, infiltration, irrigation and other diversions that could damage their economy and cause a loss of generating capacity at their Aswan hydroelectric project.
Cutting edge optical sensor technology is being used in the Mississippi River basin to more accurately track the nitrate pulse from small streams, large tributaries and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico.
“Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have discovered evidence for an ancient delta on Mars where a river might once have emptied into a vast ocean.” Quoted from the California Institute of Technology press release.
The Landslide Blog has descriptions and photos for a number of recent landslides that have occurred in response to tropical storms in southern Asia. Scan down the homepage and note the diverse locations.
The San Clemente Dam on the Carmel River near Monterey, California is being removed because it does not meet the state seismic safety standards. It will take three years to dismantle the dam and temporarily reroute the Carmel River. Removal of the dam will cause many environmental changes in the drainage basin.
“Using an innovative satellite technique, NASA scientists have determined that a previously unmapped type of wildfire in the Amazon rainforest is responsible for destroying several times more forest than has been lost through deforestation in recent years.”
This video demonstrates how USGS can apply advanced computer applications, hydrographic surveys, and SWAT visualizations that will enhance the integration of knowledge and models of river life of the Mekong Basin from the headwaters to the delta.
“The U.S. Geological Survey released an analysis of the Watts Branch of the Anacostia River in Prince Georges County, Maryland that documents how restoration work on this urban tributary has had a substantial impact on the local economy, directly or indirectly accounting for 45 jobs, $2.6 million in local labor income and $3.4 million in value added to the area in 2011.” Quoted from the USGS announcement.
“For the first time, anyone can find out the current conditions on thousands of rivers and streams across the country, right from their phone, using USGS’ latest system WaterNow. WaterNow makes the water conditions monitored by more than 16,000 streamgages and other sites across the country available via text or email.” Quoted from the USGS press release.
“As a result of last year’s drought, stretches of the Upper Mississippi River have approached record lows. These low water levels have jeopardized commercial barge traffic shipping agricultural and energy commodities on the river.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration website.
Water levels on the Great Lakes were at December record lows last month, causing problems at some ports and requiring some cargo ships to lighten their loads.
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