|Figure 1. ciBioBase aquatic vegetation heatmap collected by Grant Jones, Field Operations Manager, Restorative Lake Sciences (left) and Eurasian watermilfoil beds delineated with companion species surveys and the BioBase polygon tool. Polygons were exported from BioBase and uploaded to Google Earth.|
Earlier this year, Senior Biologist Scott Bryan from the Central Arizona Project (CAP) blogged about how the CAP is using BioBase to manage sedimentation in Arizona’s lifeblood 336-mile aqueduct. Since then, CAP GIS Wizard Glenn Emanuel has worked some amazing magic on the BioBase grid exports using Spatial and 3D Analyst Extensions for ArcGIS (Figure 1).
The data and images allow CAP to make informed decisions regarding the efficiency of sediment removal operations. In addition, ArcScene was used to produce a 3D scene of the forebay (Figure 2), which can then be animated with a video fly-through.
Any user of BioBase properly equipped with the proper third party GIS software can create these amazing map products that are more than just pretty pictures. They create a real-life, tangible perspective of aquatic resource conditions that BioBase users are interested in managing, protecting, and restoring.
The Central Arizona Project (CAP) is a multipurpose water resource development and management project that provides irrigation, municipal and industrial water to much of Arizona. The primary means of water conveyance is a 336-mile concrete-lined aqueduct that transports water from the Colorado River, on Arizona’s western border, across the State to Phoenix, and then southward to the aqueduct terminus near Tucson. Each year, over 1.5 million acre-feet of water is delivered to our customers.
Since its completion in 1993, the aqueduct system has experienced increasingly severe sedimentation that creates problems within the pumping plants and in the aqueduct itself. Because the sediments can decrease the flow capacity of the aqueduct, cause damage to pumps and internal systems, and restrict flow through critical filtration units, it is imperative that dredging operations occur periodically.
|CAP forebay dredging in 2009|
In the past, CAP performed intensive sonar based sediment studies to determine bathymetry and the amount of deposition in the forebay of each of the 13 pumping plants. The surveys show when and where dredging operations should occur. These surveys were contracted to outside companies with costs ranging from $40,000 to $120,000 annually.
In 2012, CAP began to use the sonar technology provided by BioBase to conduct its own bathymetry surveys in the pumping plant forebays. Water depths are compared to historical baseline surveys and the volume of sediment in each forebay can easily be calculated. Annual surveys allow us to compare sedimentation from year-to-year to determine loading rates and critical areas to target sediment removal. Surveys of all 13 forebays can now be accomplished in three days rather than six months, and when compared to the expensive surveys from the past, are equally as accurate.
|Blue-scale bathymetric map of a CAP forebay. The light blue contours show an area that is extremely shallow and is in need of sediment removal.|
|Example transect design and resultant bathymetric map coupled with the sonar log viewer. Notice the detailed image of the forebay’s trash racks produced by Lowrance HDS DownScan|
Scott Bryan is the Senior Biologist for Central Arizona Project (CAP). After receiving an M.S. in Fisheries Management at South Dakota State University, Scott worked as a research biologist for Arizona Game and Fish for 10 years, then specialized in lake and stream management for seven years at a private consulting firm in Albuquerque. Scott’s current position at CAP includes a broad scope of work, including aquatic and terrestrial vegetation control, fisheries and wildlife management, invasive species research, and water quality monitoring.
The Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) is well appreciated as an important fisheries species in many northern areas of the world. In addition, it is equally important to evolutionary biologists because of this species’ frequent development of ‘morphs’ or ‘types’ and their bearing on our understanding of mechanisms of speciation (Figure 1). In the U.K., this fascinating fish is also recognised as having great nature conservation value.
|Figure 1. A female (top) and male (bottom) Arctic charr from Windermere, U.K. Photo courtesy of the Center for Ecology and Hydrology)|
Windermere is England’s largest lake and has been at the forefront of several areas of Arctic charr research for many decades, with the notable exception of studies of their spawning grounds (Figure 2). Despite their long appreciated significance for the coexistence of autumn- and spring-spawning Arctic charr types, local spawning grounds have not been studied in any detail since their original brief description in the 1960s. At that time, laborious and spatially-limited direct observations by divers showed that spawning requires the availability of gravel or other hard bottom habitat. New information on these critical areas is needed by ecologists and evolutionary biologists and, more urgently, by fisheries and conservation organisations responsible for the management of Windermere.
|Figure 2. Breathtaking view of Windermere’s north basin; home to several spawning populations of Arctic charr. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ian Winfield.|
We are currently using the newly developed bottom hardness capability of ciBioBase to survey and characterise the spawning grounds of Arctic charr in Windermere. Limited underwater video is being used for ground-truthing, but the combination of a Lowrance™ HDS-5 sounder with ciBioBase is allowing us to investigate the known spawning grounds with unprecedented speed (Figure 3). For the first time, we have been able to document in detail the bathymetry and bottom features of a long-monitored (for spawning fish) spawning ground just north of the island of North Thompson Holme in the lake’s north basin. ciBioBase is also enabling us to examine other known spawning grounds in Windermere and to expand our coverage to other potential areas previously unstudied.
|Figure 3. An example ciBioBase output of bottom composition on and around the Arctic charr spawning ground of North Thompson Holme in the north basin of Windermere|
The rapidity of the field component of hydroacoustic surveys is well known. ciBioBase now offers us a similarly fast method of hydroacoustic data analysis for key environmental characteristics in relation to the spawning of Arctic charr. This new approach helps us to dramatically increase our return on investment and also allows us to review results within hours of coming off the water, leading in some cases to us adapting our field plans on the basis of initial results.
Dr. Ian J Winfield is a Freshwater Ecologist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster, U.K. He has over 30 years of research experience in fish and fisheries ecology, hydroacoustics, and lake ecosystem assessment and management. Dr. Winfield sits on several regional, national and international advisory boards and is the current President of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles (FSBI).
Joey van Rijn is an undergraduate student currently following a BSc. degree course in Applied Biology at the University of Applied sciences, HAS Den Bosch, in the Netherlands. He is experienced in ecological and particularly phenological research including work on temperature-induced differences between urban and rural areas in the timing of blossoming and leaf unfolding in shrubs. He has also been involved with the development of fish ways for standing waters in the Netherlands. Joey is currently undertaking a research internship at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster, U.K., where his research mainly focuses on using hydroacoustics to investigate Arctic charr spawning grounds in Windermere.