Thursday, May 11, 2017

Stroud’s WikiWatershed Receives Governor’s Award For Environmental Excellence

WikiWatershed, an online toolkit featuring a watershed-modeling web app developed by Stroud Water Research Center in Chester County and partners, has new features to help individuals learn about and protect their watersheds.
The toolkit was recently awarded the 2017 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence by the Department of Environmental Protection. Awardees of 16 different projects that represent the very best in innovation, collaboration, and public service in environmental stewardship were recognized at an event hosted by DEP and the PA Environmental Council on April 25 at the Hilton in downtown Harrisburg.
Stroud Water Research Center, known around the world for its cutting-edge freshwater science, education, and watershed restoration activities, developed WikiWatershed with team members from Azavea, the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory, the Concord Consortium, Meliora Design, Utah State University, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, and Millersville University.
WikiWatershed is intended for users to share watershed-model scenarios, watershed-monitoring data, and watershed-management stories as an open, collaborative community.
For example, among the available tools, the Model My Watershed app features an intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes advanced watershed modeling easy from a web browser.
Anyone can harness the supercomputing power of the Amazon cloud to visualize and analyze national datasets of land cover, hydrologic soil types, stream networks, and watershed boundaries to predict stormwater runoff and water quality for any area of interest in the continental United States.
Additional data newly available for visualization and analysis within the Delaware River Basin includes stream network overlays, Stream Reach Assessment Tool overlays, point sources of permitted pollution discharges, county-based animal data, USGS stream monitoring data, and more. Users can analyze data and create scenarios in a 24-hour storm event model and a multiyear model for any area of interest in the lower 48 United States.
The latest version of Model My Watershed uses professional-grade models to enable citizens, conservation practitioners, and municipal decision-makers to compare how different conservation or development scenarios for their neighborhoods and their watersheds could modify runoff and water quality.
Model My Watershed was also designed for students and teachers to learn systems thinking and geospatial analysis skills in the context of place-based problem-solving for watershed science.
The NSF Division of Research on Learning has funded a collaborative project between the Stroud Center, Millersville University, and the Concord Consortium for further development of the app and teaching environmental sustainability (awards DRL-1418133, DRL-1417527, and DRL-1417722).
About 75 teachers in California, Iowa, Kansas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania piloted a watershed curriculum last school year, and more teachers are currently piloting a revised curriculum this school year.
Director of Education Steve Kerlin, Ph.D., says, “During the teacher trainings last summer, teachers were excited to explore Model My Watershed features and began to customize the model curriculum for their students.
After implementing the use of Model My Watershed in their classes, teachers have reported that the experience of using real data to solve real problems has been highly impactful.”
The latest version of Model My Watershed was jointly funded by the William Penn Foundation and the National Science Foundation.
It expands capabilities that were prototyped in 2010-2011 with NSF funding to a national scale, and it adds enhanced capabilities, such as rapid watershed delineation available nationally and high-resolution data layers available for the Delaware River Basin.
“A user can select an area anywhere in the continental United States and quickly and easily see how freshwater resources will improve or deteriorate if you plant a forest or add a building,” says Anthony Aufdenkampe, Ph.D., a senior environmental scientist at LimnoTech, who specializes in making scientific data and models easily accessible to the public. He is a co-principal investigator for the Model My Watershed project. “Model My Watershed is the first national-scale tool in the WikiWatershed toolkit. Our vision is for WikiWatershed users to share watershed-model scenarios, watershed-monitoring data, and watershed-management stories as an open, collaborative community.”
Melinda Daniels, Ph.D., head of the Fluvial Geomorphology Group and also a co-principal investigator on the project, says, “The beauty of this app is its accessibility. Almost anyone can start using it and easily learn how to do watershed modeling. The level of analysis embedded in the app would normally take someone many hours of coursework to learn how to do; now it can be applied quickly by schoolchildren, citizens, municipal decision-makers, and conservation practitioners with little, if any, instruction.”
And the results are super fast. There’s no need to track down a land area’s soil data and then use complex equations to calculate how a new development or restoration project will affect local water quality. With a few mouse clicks, the Model My Watershed app reveals an estimate of the impact in a flash.
“The William Penn Foundation is committed to supporting work in the Delaware River watershed that helps ensure an adequate supply of clean water for future generations,” said Andrew Johnson, William Penn Foundation’s program director of watershed protection. “This pivotal project will vastly improve the ability of municipal decision-makers and conservation practitioners to accelerate and amplify their conservation impact in the Delaware River watershed.”
WikiWatershed and Model My Watershed were funded in part by: National Science Foundation (grants DRL-1418133, DRL-1417527, DRL-1417722, DRL-0929763, and DRL1433761); William Penn Foundation (grants 103-14 and 12-17); Stroud Water Research Center; Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation; The Dansko Foundation; and Generous donations from Peter Kjellerup and Mandy Cabot.
To learn more, visit the WikiWatershed website.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the Stroud Water Research Center website, Click Here to sign up for regular updates from Stroud, Click Here to become a Friend Of Stroud Research,  Like them on Facebook, Follow on Twitter, include them in your Circle on Google+ and visit their YouTube Channel.

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