Logan River in Autumn, 2016

The Utah Center for Water Resources Research (UCWRR)

The UCWRR is one of 54 state water institutes that were authorized by the Water Resources Research Act of 1964. Housed within the Utah Water Research Laboratory, the Center promotes and coordinates the development of research and instructional programs related to stewardship of water quantity and quality through collaboration with federal, state, and local government and the private sector and furthers the training of water resource scientists and engineers.

2021 USGS 104g Requests for Proposals are now available

Water Resources Research National Competitive Grants
AIS Grants
PFAS Grants

All proposals are due June 24, 2021

About the Utah Center for Water Resources Research (UCWRR)

The UCWRR actively assists the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), the Utah Department of Natural Resources (UDNR), the State Engineer's Office, all 12 local health departments, and various large water management agencies and conservancy districts within the state with specific water-related problems pertinent to the scope of each.

The UCWRR maintains strong communications and close working relationships with water-related state and local agencies through participation on state boards, activities in conferences and committees, and personal contacts.

The Section 104 program facilitates the important function of linking water research programs throughout Utah, linking Utah programs with national programs, and supporting seed projects.

USGS Section 104 funds administered through the Utah Center for Water Resources Research (UCWRR) are used for outreach, information dissemination, and applied research on water resources and environmental quality issues in the State of Utah.

Objectives

The Section 104 program facilitates the important function of linking water research programs throughout Utah, linking Utah programs with national programs, and supporting seed projects.

USGS Section 104 funds administered through the Utah Center for Water Resources Research (UCWRR) are used for outreach, information dissemination, and applied research on water resources and environmental quality issues in the State of Utah.

Key Objectives

  • Facilitate water research, outreach, design, and testing elements to support student education and citizen training
  • Foster interdepartmental research and educational programs in water resources
  • Administer the State Water Research Institute Program funded through the U.S. Geological Survey at Utah State University for the State of Utah
  • Provide university-wide coordination of water resources research.

Mission & Vision

Utah Center for Water Resources Research (UCWRR) is located at Utah State University (USU), the Land Grant University in Utah, and is managed by the Director and staff of the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) at USU. It is one of 54 state water institutes that were authorized by the Water Resources Research Act of 1964. Its mission is related to stewardship of water quantity and quality through collaboration with government and the private sector.

The UCWRR actively assists the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), the Utah department of Natural Resources (UDNR), the State Engineers Office, all 12 local health departments, and several large water management agencies and purveyors in the state with specific water resources problems.

The mission of the UCWRR is to foster scholarship that supports research and education within a university environment, and information transfer and service to external audiences. The research is directed at solving multimedia water-related problems of state, national, and international scopes. The UCWRR works with academic departments at universities in the state and with local, state, and federal water and resources management agencies in planning, conducting, and arranging for research and in generating, transmitting, applying, and preserving knowledge related to water quality and quantity issues and problems. An important goal of the research conducted at the Center is to provide for technically informed water-related policy that can be used to protect and improve human health and environmental assets in Utah.

The State of Utah was strongly committed to water resources research in Utah even before Congress approved the Water Resources Research Act of 1964 creating the state institutes and the Section 104 program. In 1959, the Utah legislature authorized the establishment of the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) at Utah State University (USU). Construction of physical facilities was completed in December 1964. The UWRL has one of the best hydraulics laboratories anywhere and a state-of-the-art environmental quality laboratory. In addition to the physical facilities, the State of Utah has provided a line item budget that is now approximately $3 million per year, including mineral lease funds, which are allocated by formula. These resources are used to leverage external funding, to invest directly in applied research directed at emerging water problems in Utah, and, in partnership with various state agencies and other universities, as match funding for the 104 and other federal programs.

The UWRL functions as a university cost center for administering research funding, which totals between $8 and $12 million annually. The UWRL Director also serves as director of the UCWRR and reports to the Dean of the College of Engineering.

The UCWRR administers the USGS Section 104 grant program in Utah. In the mid-1960s, Section 104 funds were a significant fraction of the total UCWRR funding, but today Section 104-b funds represent only a small fraction of the total annual funding managed by the Utah Water Research Laboratory. However, the objectives that have been established for the Utah program make it a valuable component of the overall UWRL program.

Administrative Staff

Dr. David Tarboton, Director
(435) 797-3172
david.tarboton@usu.edu

Tracy Brown, Business Manager
(435) 797-3184
tracy.brown@usu.edu

Ivonne Harris, Publications Specialist
(435) 797-3693
ivonne.harris@usu.edu

Carri Richards, Public Relations Specialist
(435) 797-8040
carri.richards@usu.edu

Jan Urroz, Supervisor of Administrative
Services and Infrastructure
(435) 797-3157
jan.urroz@usu.edu

All USU faculty engaged in water resources education or research are considered associates of the Center. Approximately 25 full-time faculty hold joint appointments at the UWRL and various departments in the College of Engineering at USU. These, together with approximately 25 other full-time faculty in various academic departments, both within and outside the College of Engineering, form the core of UCWRR associates at USU. These faculty are supported by an outstanding cadre of approximately 40 professional and classified employees and 150 students. Collectively, these faculty, staff, and students span the range of water-related disciplines, from engineers and economists to chemists and agricultural specialists.

Coordination

Coordination activities can be divided into state, regional, and national.

  • At the state level, we administer the Section 104 Program, publish reports that summarize all UCWRR research, co-sponsor the Utah Section AWRA Annual Meeting, and keep UCWRR Associates informed through various mailings. The Director and other personnel associated with the UCWRR meet on a very frequent basis with representatives of state and local water planning, management, and enforcement agencies (e.g., the Division of Water Rights, Division of Water Resources, the State Engineer, Division of Wildlife Resources, Division of Water Quality, Division of Drinking Water, Division of Homeland Security, Weber Water Conservancy District, Washington County Water conservancy District, the Sevier River Water Users Association, numerous large canal and irrigation companies, Bear River Commission, all of the public health boards in the state, etc.) Active communication is maintained with various Federal agencies in the state, including the USGS, the US Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and so forth. This strengthens the research identification process and opens opportunities for information transfer, outreach, and partnering with local, state, and Federal water agencies.
  • At the national level, the UCWRR Director participates in the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) Annual Meeting, and either the Director or the Associate Director attends the Annual Meeting of the Universities Council on Water Resources.

Research Program & Funding

Proposal Review and Selection Process

State of Utah water-related agency directors provide input and guidance concerning priority water issues and needs of Utah to the UCWRR Director. Periodic meetings are held to obtain input and feedback, with numerous follow-up assignments to UCWRR faculty and staff.

Input from state agency directors and division heads, and meetings with other water institutes in the Colorado River Basin Region is considered by the USU WRRC for relevant topics currently not receiving adequate attention, or topics that offer promise for building larger research programs.

Given the limited annual federal funding provided by Section 104(b), a programmatic approach is more effective and efficient in supporting Utah's water research needs. Specific project selections are based on:

  • Importance attached to the problem area by Utah state and local government water-related agencies.
  • Clear articulation of realistic project objectives and a well-developed methodology to a depth that showed conversance with theory and practice.
  • Appropriate background of faculty and availability of the necessary support staff and facilities.
  • Contribution to student training for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

Funding Opportunities

The UCWRR receives federally appropriated funding through the U.S. Geological Survey’s State Water Research Institute Program and, through the UWRL, state funding in the form of state appropriation funds (SAF) and mineral lease funds (MLF). The Center also competes for federal and private contracts and grants.

Funding allocated to the UCWRR through the mechanisms of the Water Resources Research Act supports research on important water management problems in Utah such as the projects highlighted above.

Although the UWRL administers the UCWRR and is administratively located in the College of Engineering at Utah State University, Section 104 proposals are solicited from all interested departments at USU and other Utah universities. In Utah, the water research program is assigned by the State Legislature to Utah State University; however, the UCWRR works with state agencies and other universities in Utah, most notably Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, to promote collaboration and make Section 104 money available more broadly across the state to promote the generation of knowledge that can facilitate solutions to the state's water challenges.

2021 USGS 104g request for proposals now available:

Water Resources Research National Competitive Grants

AIS Grants

PFAS Grants

All proposals due June 24, 2021

Current / Ongoing Projects

 

2020

  • Leveraging LIDAR and Citizen-Science for Low-Cost, High-Resolution Snow-Depth Estimation (2020UT301B)—University of Utah; Carlos A. Oroza (CEE)
  • Dynamic, Adaptive Management of the Colorado River to Enhance Water Supply and River Ecosystem Outcomes (2020UT303B)—Utah State University; David E. Rosenberg (UWRL/CEE) and John C. (Jack) Schmidt (Watershed Sciences)
  • Obtaining Lidar Data to Support Research in the Logan River Watershed (2020UT304B)—Utah State University; Bethany T. Neilson (UWRL/CEE)
  • Improving the Hydraulics of Urban Flooding (2020UT305B)—Utah State University; Zachary B. Sharp (UWRL/CEE)

2019

  • Bathymetric surveying using sonar and drones for recurring data analysis (2019UT255B)—Brigham Young University, Rollin Hotchkiss & G.P. Williams (CEE)
  • New design and analysis guidance regarding potential scour of hydraulic structures located in canals, rivers, dams, and levees (2019UT256B)—Utah State University, Brian Crookston (UWRL/CEE)
  • Characterizing streamflow and temperature patterns to determine impacts of summer dewatering on the Blacksmith Fork River, (2019UT257B)—Utah State University, Belize Lane (UWRL/CEE), Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE)
  • Use of sUAS for mapping wetland flow paths and consumptive use on the San Rafael River, Utah, (2019UT258B)—Utah State University, Alfonso Torres-Rua (UWRL/CEE), Ian Gowing (UWRL)

Ongoing

  • Information transfer in support of the Utah Center for Water Resources Research—Utah State University, Carri L. Richards (UWRL)

Past Projects 2002–2018:

2018

  • Improving representation of environmental objectives in systems models to inform integrated water management strategies, (2018UT209B) — Utah State University, Belize Lane (UWRL/CEE), David Rosenberg (UWRL/CEE)
  • Mapping subsurface tile drainage systems with unmanned aerial vehicles, (2018UT210B) — Utah State University, Ruijie Zeng (UWRL/CEE), Niel Allen (UWRL/CEE)
  • Understanding the variability of recharge and groundwater control on mountainous stream discharge in karrst environments, (2018UT208B) — Utah State University, Tianfang Xu (UWRL/CEE), Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE)

2017

  • Mapping didymosphenia in the Logan River Drainange, (2017UT204B) — Utah State University, Janice Brahney (Watershed Sciences), Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE)
  • Use of sUAS for mapping wetland flow paths and consumptive use on the San Rafael River, Utah, (2017UT205B) — Utah State University, Alfonso Torres-Rua (UWRL/CEE) & Leila Hassan-Esfahani (UWRL)

2016

  • Researching optimal methods, (2016UT208S) Brigham Young University, Daniel Ames (CEE)
  • Quantification of groundwater influences in high gradient Utah streams and rivers, (2016UT200B) — Utah State University, Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE)
  • Water MAPS for promoting urban landscape water use efficiency, (2016UT203B) — Utah State University, Joanna Ender-Wada (Environment and Society), Roger Kjelgren (Plants, Soils, and Climate)
  • Water Strategy Advisory Team: An assessment of the Envision Utah process to improve water management, (2016UT201B) — University of Utah, Daniel McCool (Political Science) , Marian Hubbard-Rice (Political Science)

2015

  • Biofiltration of Utah municipal drinking water, (2015UT197B) — Utah State University, David K. Stevens (UWRL/CEE)
  • Information systems for landscape water conservation, (2015UT196B) Utah State University, Kelly Kopp (Plants, Soils, and Climate) & David Stevens (UWRL/CEE)

2014

  • Influence of groundwater/surface water interactions in high gradient mountain streams, (2014UT193B) Utah State University, Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE)
  • Managing western irrigation systems in the face of urbanization, (2014UT195B)Utah State University, Douglas Jackson-Smith (Sociology)

2013

  • Capturing aerial imagery on the San Rafael River, Utah, using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to monitor and assist in evaluating restoration efforts, (2013UT190B) Utah State University, Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE) & Ian Gowing (UWRL)
  • Quantification of water quality improvements through the 900 S Oxbow Restoration and Stormwater BMP Renovation Project, (2013UT189B) Utah State University, Ryan Dupont (UWRL/CEE)

2012

  • Performance of stormwater bioretention systems in Utah's climate and hydrologic conditions, (2012UT168B) University of Utah, Steve Burian (CEE) & Christine Pomeroy (CEE)
  • UAV monitoring and assessment applications in municipal water and environmental management problems, (2012UT167B) Utah State University, David E. Rosenberg (UWRL)

2011

  • Analyzing the Spread of Phragmites australis Over Short-Time Scales Using Spatial and Genetic Tools, (2011UT156B) Utah State University, Karin Kettenring (Watershed Sciences)
  • Estimating crop water use with remote sensing: development of guidelines and specifications (USGS Award No G11AP20229) (2011UT 164S ) Utah State University, Mac McKee (UWRL), Christopher Neale (Irrigation Engineering), Hatim Geli (CEE)
  • Reducing dangers of low head dams, (2011UT154B) Utah State University, Michael Johnson (UWRL/CEE)

2010

  • Analyzing the spread of Phragmites australis over short time scales using spatial and genetic tools, (2010UT137B) Utah State Universtiy, Karin Kettenring (Watershed Sciences) & David Rosenberg (UWRL/CEE)
  • Developing a priority system for managing sediment in smaller reservoirs,(2010UT146B) Brigham young University, Rollin Hotchkiss (CEE)
  • Development of flood emergency response capabilities using UAVs, (2010UT141B) Utah State University, William Rahmeyer (UWRL/CEE)
  • Drought index information system for NIDIS, (USGS Grant No. G10AP00039) (2010UT134S), Utah State University, David Tarboton (UWRL/CEE)

2009

  • Drought Planning Including Carryover Surface Water Storage for a Utah Water Service Provider, (2009UT130B) Utah State University, David Rosenberg (UWRL/CEE)
  • Increasing data accuracy, reliability, accessibility, and understanding to improve basin-wide water resources decision making, (2009UT130B) Utah State University, Blake Tullis (UWRL/CEE)

2008

  • Basin-scale internal waves within the south arm of the Great Salt Lake, (2008UT106B) Utah State University, Robert Spall (UWRL/CEE)
  • Drought index information system for NIDIS, (USGS Grant No. G10AP00039) (2010UT134S), Utah State University, David Tarboton (UWRL/CEE)
  • Increasing data accuracy, reliability, accessibility, and understanding to improve basin-wide water resources decision making (2008UT103B) Utah State University, Blake Tullis (UWRL/CEE)
  • Low-level outlet works air vent sizing requirement for small to medium size dams, (2008UT105B) Utah State University, Blake Tullis (UWRL/CEE)

2007

  • Development and calibration of a hydrodynamic model for Utah Lake, (2007UT80B) Utah State University, Robert Spall (UWRL/CEE)
  • Economic & Fiscal Impacts of the Groundwater Management - Beryl Enterprises, (2007UT83B) Utah State University, Mac McKee (UWRL/CEE)
  • Two Zone Temperature and Solute Model Testing and Development in the Virgin River, (2007UT87B) Utah State Universtiy, Bethany Neilson (UWRL/CEE)

2006

  • Evaluating water allocation strategies in the Virgin River basin for the protection andeEnhancement of native fish, (2006UT70B) Utah State University, Thomas Hardy (UWRL/CEE)
  • Irrigation demand forecasting for management in large water systems, (2006UT69B) Utah State University, Mac McKee (UWRL/CEE)
  • Potential impacts of flow augmentation on stream restoration projects, (2006UT72B) Brigham young Universtiy, Rollin Hotchkiss (CEE)

2005

  • The integration of multispectral imaging and LIDAR to evaluate the geomorphic changes associated with a levy setback along the Puyallup River, WA, (2005UT79S) Utah State University, Christopher M.U. Neale (CEE), Robert W. Black (USGS), Christopher P. Konrad (U. of Wuertzburg)
  • Alternative Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems for Utah Conditions, (2004UT44B) Utah State Universtiy, Judy Sims (UWRL/CEE)
  • Data fusion for improved management of large western water systems, 2004UT46B) Utah State University, Mac McKee (UWRL/CEE)

2004

  • Alternative Decentralized Wastewater Treatment Systems for Utah Conditions, (2004UT44B) Utah State Universtiy, Judy Sims (UWRL/CEE)
  • Data fusion for improved management of large western water systems, 2004UT46B) Utah State University, Mac McKee (UWRL/CEE)

2003

  • Source Water Protection Assessment Tools Development, (2003UT29B) Utah State University, Ronald Sims (UWRL/BIE)

2002

  • Source water protection assessment tools development, (2002UT1B) Utah State University, Ronald Sims (UWRL/BIE)

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