2017 Progress Report: An Integrated Modeling and Decision Framework to Evaluate Adaptation Strategies for Sustainable Drinking Water utility management under drought and climate change

EPA Grant Number: R835865
Title: An Integrated Modeling and Decision Framework to Evaluate Adaptation Strategies for Sustainable Drinking Water utility management under drought and climate change
Investigators: Ozekin, Kenan , Kasprzyk, Joseph Robert , Livneh, Benjamin , Rajagopalan, Balaji , Rosario-Ortiz, Fernando , Summers, R. Scott
Institution: Water Research Foundation , University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2018
Project Period Covered by this Report: September 1, 2016 through August 31,2017
Project Amount: $1,250,000
RFA: National Priorities: Systems-Based Strategies to Improve The Nation’s Ability to Plan And Respond to Water Scarcity and Drought Due to Climate Change (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water


Drought due to climate change and other extreme events such as wildfire and floods challenge drinking water utilities’ ability to treat water to meet regulatory and public health protection goals, with turbidity and disinfection byproducts (DBPs) control as the critical water quality (WQ) issues. The objectives of the research are to: (1) understand the flow and sediment generation from water supply watersheds in response to scenarios of hydro-climatological extremes and natural hazards, (2) understand the mobilization and transport of organic matter and sediments, and in some cases nutrients, through the watershed and eventually to the water treatment plant (WTP), (3) develop source water thresholds for turbidity and DBP precursors based on finished water regulatory constraints and using stream WQ data with extreme value theory predict WQ threshold exceedances, and (4) evaluate a suite of adaptation and operation strategies (e.g., watershed management, wild fire mitigation, WTP modifications) along with their economic, societal and policy implications - with multi-objective optimization and multi-criteria analysis tools.

Progress Summary:

Major accomplishments in year 2 (this report period) include:


  1. Activity 1 has focused centrally on model development and implementation for an ensemble of 5 sediment algorithms over the Clear Creek and CLP watersheds. In addition to public presentations, a journal article was accepted that describes this new ensemble methodology and presents results of the ensemble over the two watersheds. More recently, efforts have shifted to characterizing wildfire impacts on vegetation and soils, in order to estimate hydrologic and sediment responses with the modeling framework.
  2. Activity 2 has focused on the examination of carbon mobilization from watersheds after wildfires. Different sites have been examined, including more comprehensive analytical analysis of the molecular process to better understand potential DBP precursors. One publication on the preliminary experiments is underway and a second publication is expected in May of 2018. This work has been presented by poster at the AGU Conference in San Francisco in 2016 and the ACS conference in San Francisco in 2017. Talks on this work have been made at the FESP conference in South Africa in 2017 and the WQTC in Portland, OR in 2017.
  3. Activity 3 developed an Extreme Value Analysis (EVA) model for modeling threshold exceedances of TOC and models using hydroclimate variables as predictors to forecast surface water TOC concentrations and turbidity. Over the next year, anticipated outcomes include refinement to the model forecasting turbidity in surface waters and development of turbidity thresholds.
  4. Activity 4 has developed a decision support tool which suggests new operating policies for water treatment plants, especially for utilities dealing with changing source water quality. The simulation-optimization methods used in this tool have been used in fields, such as water resources planning and groundwater monitoring, but this is among the first applications for water treatment. The trend toward faster computing and real-time data collection continues increase the practical viability of these simulation-optimization methods.

Future Activities:

The next reporting period, the project team will continue to work on all four activities.  Continuing activities include ensemble modeling involving calibration and validation of postfire simulations of streamflow and sediment (Activity 1), data analysis and additional lab testing (Activity 2), development of threshold and water quality forecasting methodology (Activity 3), and further development, testing, and dissemination of the decision support tool (Activity 4).  Table 1 summarizes the project schedule and planned activities.

Table 1 - Project Schedule

Journal Articles on this Report : 5 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 37 publications 5 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Raseman WJ, Kasprzyk JR, Rosario-Ortiz FL, Stewart JR, Livneh B. Emerging investigators series: a critical review of decision support systems for water treatment:making the case for incorporating climate change and climate extremes. Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology 2017;3(1):18-36. R835865 (2016)
R835865 (2017)
  • Abstract: RSC Publications-Abstract
  • Journal Article Samson CC, Rajagopalan B, Summers RS. Modeling source water TOC using hydroclimate variables and local polynomial regression. Environmental Science & Technology 2016;50(8):4413-4421. R835865 (2016)
    R835865 (2017)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Abstract: ACS Publications-Abstract
  • Journal Article Stewart, J.R., Livneh, B., Kasprzyk, J.R., Rajagopalan, B., Minear, J.T. and Raseman, W.J., 2017. A multi-algorithm approach to land surface modeling of suspended sediment in the Colorado Front Range. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems 2017; 9(7):2526-2544. R835865 (2017)
    R835603 (2017)
  • Full-text: Wiley -Full Text HTML
  • Journal Article Samson, C.C., Rajagopalan, B., Summers, R.S., 2016. Modeling Source Water TOC Using Hydroclimate Variables and Local Polynomial Regression. Environmental Science & Technology 50 (8), 4413-4421 DOI:10.1021/acs.est.6b00639. R835865 (2017)
    not available
    Journal Article Raseman, W.J., Kasprzyk, J.R., Rosario-Ortiz, F.L., Stewart, J., Livneh, B., 2017. Emerging investigators series:a critical review of decision support systems for water treatment:making the case for incorporating climate change and climate extremes. Environmental Science:Water Research and Technology 3, 18-36. DOI:10.1039/C6EW00121A. R835865 (2017)
    not available

    Supplemental Keywords:

    sediments, turbidity, organic matter, DBPs, hydroclimate extremes, watershed modeling, drought, water quantity, multi-objective and multi-criteria analysis

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2016 Progress Report