Aqua Strategies provides water resources planning services, including all of the technical aspects needed to achieve multiple objectives. We help you develop solutions that are well thought out, consider diverse views and are grounded in sound science.
Advanced Hydrodynamic and Hydrologic Modeling, Forecasting, and Physical Data Collection
We have unique experience conducting dozens of combined field data collection and modeling projects along the Texas coast and in rivers of the southwest. This combined approach is what it takes to understand and make the most of complex model results. Working for private, local, state and federal clients, Tim Osting has navigated over 1,000 miles of river for field data collection efforts, and modeled over 750 miles of river for water quality, habitat assessment, 2D hydrodynamics, riparian connectivity and sediment transport. From lake volumetric surveys to river geomorphic stability assessments, we have used RTK and post-processed survey-grade GPS units; flow measurement devices (Marsh McBirney, ADCP, FlowTracker); water quality probes and sondes; weather stations; traditional survey instruments; marine echosounders; and GIS post-processing tools. A selection of recent projects include:
- Physical and biological field data collection, bathymetric survey, River2D habitat modeling and instream flow hydrological analysis for the Colorado River River Authority (LCRA) and the San Antonio River Authority (SARA);
- Riparian restoration for endangered species habitat;
- Development of a statewide Approach for Instream Flows Water Quality Evaluation for the Texas Instream Flow Program (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and SARA);
- Watershed Protection Plan development (Lake Granbury, Cypress/Caddo Lake, San Marcos);
- Determination of freshwater flow available for diversion out of the Lower Colorado Basin and into East Matagorda Bay for the Texas Water Development Board.
Modern water planning approaches should involve quantification of the uncertainty associated with the numerous assumptions and estimates made. Historically, water supply planning was usually conducted within a deterministic framework where a single value for future water needs is developed based on single values for future demand and supply, without taking into account the uncertainty associated with those forecasts. Considering uncertainty allows for more realistic water need projections and water management strategies that are also more easily defended during public debate. Once forecast uncertainties have been quantified, the risk and consequences of failure are addressed.
In a situation where failure to deliver can be tolerated, or managed through implementation of emergency measures, a frequency of occurrence is determined. This allows managers to balance risk with cost. The following project description provides an example of Aqua Strategies experience integrating uncertainty into water supply planning.
Infrastructure Assessments and Feasibility Level Engineering Design
Critical to water planning is developing water management strategies which are feasible and practical. Infrastructure required to capture, pump, treat and convey water are often major components of water supply projects. Aqua Strategies combines our strong water modeling and planning capabilities with sound facility planning to support the development of water management strategies. Clint Walker has 29 years of water resources infrastructure planning, design, construction and startup experience to assess the infrastructure components required for simple to complex water systems. His experience has encompassed intakes, wells, pumps, small and large diameter pipelines, and water, wastewater (including reuse) and desalination treatment systems.
Aqua Strategies can prepare assessments of water system infrastructure needs and prepare feasibility level engineering design. These services include the following:
- Identification of required facilities, which may be required to accomplish the goals of individual water management strategies;
- Feasibility level design to assess alternative facility options, layout and sizing of necessary components, and evaluation of recommended infrastructure;
- Feasibility level cost estimating;
- Preliminary engineering reports; and
- Project delivery options including evaluation of traditional design, bid, build, or alternative delivery including CMAR, Design Build, Design, Build, Operate and Public Private Partnerships.
Increasingly, those who make water resources management decisions recognize the importance of addressing the multi-faceted nature of water resources planning and decision-making. Modern water resources planning is conducted holistically and collaboratively in order to satisfy economic needs but also other benefits, including environmental stewardship and quality of life.
Adopting this approach results in an increased interest in tools and resources that allow information to be shared and stakeholder input received. The approach further benefits from a process that allows a healthy dialog with stakeholders – with dispute resolution skills brought to bear if necessary – as well as technical input or oversight from academia and consultants.
Aqua Strategies Inc. provides professional and engineering services for permitting of Texas water rights, stormwater, sediment (404), water quality (401) and effluent discharge projects (NPDES).
We conduct technical analyses to support permit applications including receiving water analyses. Future changes to surface water quality standards may necessitate evaluation of the impact of those changes to existing effluent streams and waste water treatment technologies.
Environmental Flow Needs Assessments and Water Quality Monitoring/Modeling
Increases in water resources management result in corresponding increases in assessment of the ecosystems affected by human activities. Aqua Strategies Inc. staff are leaders in the field of environmental flow assessments for determining ecosystem needs. Not only have we have participated in the development in the legislatively-mandated Texas Instream Flow Program, we have conducted multidisciplinary environmental flow assessments in most of the major basins in Texas and Oklahoma, and in all of the major Texas bays.
Environmental flow assessments often include statistical hydrology; aquatic and riparian habitat modeling; field data collection; water quality modeling; water quality assessments and modeling; and stakeholder coordination. We have successfully designed and implemented short-term and long-term field data monitoring programs for public clients covering biological, physical and chemical topics.
Creation Of Stakeholder Communication, Dispute Resolution And Peer Review Processes
Water crosses boundaries – economic, legal, political and cultural – setting the stage for disputes between users trying to provide reliable water supply to their customers and other water users in the basin, while at the same time protecting the natural environment.
Without strategies that anticipate, address, and mediate between competing uses, water conflicts are likely to become more frequent and more intense. To address water resource challenges decision-makers need specialized resources and skills that go beyond the numerical modeling provided by engineers and scientists. Current approaches to water resources education and research do not adequately deal with the challenges to water resources management or address dispute prevention and resolution. Dr. Barney Austin is a Fellow of the University of Texas Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution, while Clint Walker is a certified Legal Mediator.