Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) to Aid in Sustaining Military Mission and Training

Dr. David Goodrich | USDA



The objective of this project is to provide a scientifically-based watershed modeling and decision support tool to Department of Defense (DoD) installation managers that is broadly applicable, easy to use, and with results that are easily interpreted to address installation watershed management concerns of water supply, water quality, rehabilitation of impacted areas, and planning, as appropriate, for future installation growth and mission expansion. This type of tool can play an integral role in the proper management of DoD lands to sustain military testing and training. Watersheds are logical organizing units for planning and management to protect natural and water resources and associated threatened, endangered and at-risk species (TER-S). In addition, watersheds and the streams draining them can deliver undesirable constituents to downstream receiving waters. Due to the significant growth of water quality-related regulations, a watershed protection approach to military installation management may be of benefit in terms of both regulatory compliance and stewardship. Essential elements of watershed protection include identification of areas prone to erosion, degraded areas most amenable to mitigation, and areas providing water for military personnel and TER-S. In addition, watershed modeling and decision tools are essential to assess the potential impacts of future installation growth and training. The project’s specific technical objective is to refine and demonstrate the widely used Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) tool coupled with the Facilitator Decision Support Tool (DST) for scientifically-based watershed assessments on several DoD installations to aid installation managers in sustaining their mission and meeting stewardship requirements in support of testing and training.

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Technology Description

The key technologies that will be demonstrated are the AGWA tool ( coupled with the flexible Facilitator multi-objective DST. AGWA is a publically available Geographic Information Systems (GIS) interface that uses freely available national data layers to parameterize, execute, and visualize outputs of the well known and widely applied Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT - and KINematic Runoff and EROSion (KINEROS2, K2 for short - watershed models. Utilization of these two models within the AGWA framework enables users to conduct watershed modeling and assessments at multiple temporal and spatial scales over a range of environmental conditions. The Facilitator DST provides a flexible, easy to use, framework to structure and document installation manager experience, expert opinion, and AGWA simulation model results to select a preferred management action. The Facilitator can be used to graphically compare alternatives, ultimately leading to the selection and implementation of an alternative management action that improves on the status quo.

In addition to the innovation of seamless multi-scale watershed assessment ability, another key advantage (innovation) of the AGWA-Facilitator system as compared to other watershed modeling systems is that it was specifically developed and designed for non-watershed modeling specialists. Many other watershed modeling systems assume a higher level of watershed modeling knowledge and expertise. This can present a barrier to their adoption and use by natural resources professionals lacking watershed modeling expertise. The technologically mature AGWA-Facilitator modeling system will provide scientifically-based tools to efficiently conduct watershed assessments for current conditions and alternative training, management, and climatic futures to enable installation managers to make more informed decisions. The project will be judged to be successful if the AGWA-Facilitator system is adopted and routinely used by installation managers at Fort Huachuca, Fort Carson, and Fort Bliss.

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The anticipated costs for adoption of AGWA-Facilitator at an installation are anticipated to be relatively small (GIS data acquisition - already available at most installations; organization of that data for AGWA; two 1.5-day training sessions for installation resource managers; and limited remote ongoing support from the AGWA-Facilitator team). Anticipated benefits beyond current practice are the ability of DoD natural resources management to conduct a wide variety of watershed assessments and planning scenarios with a free, supported, and publicly available watershed modeling system that has regulatory acceptance without hiring specialized hydrology and engineering consultants and avoiding the need to develop customized, and likely non-transferable watershed models, for a single installation. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2016)

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. David Goodrich

USDA – Agricultural Research Service

Phone: 520-670-6381 x144

Fax: 520-670-5550

Program Manager

Resource Conservation and Resiliency