Archive for May, 2011

Climate Scientists Rap

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

You’ve just gotta’ see this video. Mike Campana found it for WaterWired. Warning: graphic language, but, hey, isn’t what they’re talking about obscene too!

Foibles of paper

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I got my June issue of Washingtonian in the mail yesterday. Guess who is featured in an article? Hint: “This man lives in Georgetown and works in Foggy Bottom, so why is he likely to be the next president of France?” Actually, by the time the issue finished printing, the man was in a cell at Rikers Island accused of a very serious crime. The online version, of course, was updated. Those printing delays will kill you!

Back on the JAWRA home front, we’re already adding August papers to our Early View queue. A big featured collection on nonstationarity is nearing completion and will take up much of the June issue. It’s nice to have this flexibility so good articles do not have to sit around waiting for room in the paper copy.

Tenure track

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

We appreciate that for some authors publication in JAWRA can be an important step towards tenure. This time of year, we often get requests to move a manuscript along to meet a tenure committee deadline. Let me explain here what we can and cannot do regarding such requests.


  • Expedite administrative processing, moving a paper forward in our work queues. Since many of our authors were once in this same boat, I’m sure they don’t mind!
  • More closely track reviews, and move more assertively if a reviewer seriously lags.
  • Send notes to tenure committees explaining a paper’s status.


  • Relax our quality standards to advance someone’s career. (Duh!)
  • Ask reviewers to expedite their reviews beyond our normal schedule, as this could imply we are looking for acceptance.
  • Expedite publication following acceptance; this is very disruptive to Wiley-Blackwell’s production workflow.

Wanted: AE for Water Quality Modeling

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

JAWRA Associate Editors (AE’s) serve as primary advisors to the JAWRA Editor. Responsibilities fall into two areas: reviews and subject development. The Water Quality Modeling position handles between 15 and 20 papers per year. All manuscripts are handled through our ScholarOne Manuscripts™ system, with the AE selecting reviewers and, when reviews return, making a recommendation to the Editor. AE’s are encouraged to seek out qualified authors in their subject areas and encourage them to submit papers to JAWRA. These could be individual submittals or as featured collections of related papers organized around an introduction.

Although JAWRA publishes papers in all aspects of modeling, we have particular interest in the SWAT, HSPF, and SPARROW models.

Associate editorship is a volunteer position earning our heartfelt thanks and an invitation to our annual AE luncheon. It also offers the opportunity to make a difference on the cutting edge of multidisciplinary water resources. The term of an AE is three years, but may be extended by mutual agreement.

Interested individuals should email the Editor at We are happy to answer any questions. We will hold this position open at a minimum until June 3, 2011, but early application is encouraged.

Rich Alexander is leaving

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Rich Alexander, JAWRA Associate Editor for Water Quality Modeling is leaving us to pursue a long-delayed PhD. Already one of the most highly cited authors in the water-resources field — and a previous Boggess Award winner, to boot! — Rich feels the doctorate credential will be helpful to his future career. I had lunch with Rich today, and he seems quite confident he will be able to produce some original research for his degree. :-)

Rich has been instrumental in attracting key articles on water-quality modeling. We will be announcing for this position shortly. We wish Rich the best as he pursues his late-career degree.

Residential Water Demand

Friday, May 13th, 2011

August 2011 article (Early View): “Residential Demand for Water in the Chicago Metropolitan Area,” by Taro Mieno, and John B. Braden

The specification of the water price variable has been the most controversial issue in water demand estimation studies. This paper take a good look price effects based on eight Chicago-area municipalities which provided water tariff and residential consumption data for 1995-2007.

The quantity of water consumed by households is likely to be affected by many factors including price, demographic characteristics, existing economic policies, climate conditions, water-using technologies, and plumbing codes. Among these factors, the effect of water price, summarized in the price elasticity of water demand, is especially valuable because it is one of the few factors over which water managers have direct control. Price elasticity is defined as the ratio of the percentage change in quantity used to a percentage change in price:

where Q is quantity and P is price.

There are lots of details in the findings, too many to be covered here. Higher income municipalities in Northeastern Illinois appear to be less responsive to changes in water price, which implies that the use of pricing for water conservation can raise equity issues. Increasing prices in summer is a particularly effective way to constrain peak water use and, thus, needs for investments in additional infrastructure and water supply.

[Please note: I have quoted and paraphrased freely from the article, but the interpretation is my own!]

Water Conservation Strategies

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

August 2011 article (Early View): “The Impacts of Water Conservation Strategies on Water Use: Four Case Studies,” by Yushiou Tsai, Sara Cohen, and Richard M. Vogel.

In coordination with with four communities in the Ipswich watershed, four water conservation projects were designed to simultaneously meet immediate municipal needs and demonstrate innovative water conservation strategies that could be evaluated with real-world data. The four projects are (1) installation of weather-sensitive irrigation controller switches (WSICS) at residences and at municipal athletic fields, (2) installation of rainwater harvesting systems at residences, (3) town-administered programs to provide home indoor water use audits and fixture retrofit kits and rebates for low-water-demand toilets and washing machines, and (4) soil amendments to improve moisture retention and reduce water demand at a municipal athletic field. Statistical hypothesis tests combined with con- trolled water conservation experiments were used to evaluate water savings.

So what worked best? (1) The WSICS appeared to reduce the variability of water use among residential participants, most notably by causing a reduction in water use of the highest historical water users. (2) Annual volumes of rainwater used were small compared with domestic water use, and reductions in domestic water use as a result of substitution with rainwater could not be dierned amidst the background fluctuations in domestic water use. (3) Nonstatistically significant savings of this group appeared to result from the small sample size and large variation in water savings among the participants. (4) The addition of a moisture and nutrient-retaining additive, zeolite, to the soil of a ball field resulted in healthy turf with less water applied than to an adjacent control field. For details and qualifications, read the paper!

[Please note: I have quoted and paraphrased freely from the article, but the interpretation is my own!]

Sediment Transport

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

August 2011 article (Early View): “Impacts of Land-Cover Change on Suspended Sediment Transport in Two Agricultural Watersheds,” by Keith E. Schilling, Thomas M. Isenhart, Jason A. Palmer, Calvin F. Wolter, and Jean Spooner

Paired watershed studies are considered the gold standard for research. Daily discharge and suspended sediment export from two 5,000-ha watersheds in central Iowa were monitored over a 10-year period. In Walnut Creek watershed, a large portion of land was converted from row crop to native prairie, whereas in Squaw Creek land use remained predominantly row crop agriculture. Although modeling suggested differently, suspended sediment loads were similar in both watersheds. Stream mapping indicated that Walnut Creek had three times more eroding streambank lengths than did Squaw Creek suggesting that streambank erosion dominated sediment sources in Walnut Creek and sheet and rill sources dominated sediment sources in Squaw Creek. The results demonstrate that an accounting of all sources of sediment erosion and delivery is needed to characterize sediment reductions in watershed projects combined with long-term, intensive monitoring and modeling to account for possible lag times in the manifestation of the benefits of conservation practices on water quality

[Please note: I have quoted and paraphrased freely from the article, but the interpretation is my own!]

2011 Boggess Finalists

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The William R. Boggess Award is given to the author or authors of the paper, published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association during the preceding year, that best describes, delineates, or analyzes a major problem or aspect of water resources from either a theoretical, applied, or philosophical standpoint. Established in 1973, the Award honors William R. “Randy” Boggess, a member of AWRA, one of the first Directors, and a former President of the Association, who has also made significant contributions to AWRA as an Editor of JAWRA.

The winner is selected by the JAWRA Editor and Associate Editors, and announced by the AWRA President. In past years, we’ve reported only the winner. Often, this left several fine papers on the cutting room floor, so to speak. So, we decided to do something different this year and announce all papers reaching the final rounds. This year we have four excellent papers under consideration. Congratulations to all our finalists!

Hot Spots and Hot Moments in Riparian Zones: Potential for Improved Water Quality Management, by Philippe Vidon, Craig Allan, Douglas Burns, Tim P. Duval, Noel Gurwick, Shreeram Inamdar, Richard Lowrance, Judy Okay, Durelle Scott, and Steve Sebestyen, Volume 46, Issue 2, pages 278–298, April 2010

Future U.S. Water Consumption: The Role of Energy Production, by Deborah Elcock, Volume 46, Issue 3, pages 447–460, June 2010

Sources of Suspended-Sediment Flux in Streams of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: A Regional Application of the SPARROW Model, by John W. Brakebill, Scott W. Ator, and Gregory E. Schwarz, Volume 46, Issue 4, pages 757–776, August 2010

Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS), with an Application to Chesapeake Bay River Inputs, by Robert M. Hirsch, Douglas L. Moyer, and Stacey A. Archfield, Volume 46, Issue 5, pages 857–880, October 2010