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«2016 National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium Booklet of Abstracts (Unedited) Con-Current and Poster Sessions American Water Resources ...»

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American Water Resources Association

National Capital Region Section

2016 National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium

Booklet of Abstracts


Con-Current and Poster Sessions

American Water Resources Association

National Capital Section

University of the District of Columbia

April 8, 2016

American Water Resources Association

National Capital Region Section




Estimation of Land Surface Evaporation Using Variational Data Assimilation Method: Application Drought Monitoring.

Abedeh Abdolghafoorian, Graduate Research Assistant and Leila Farhadi, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

Contact: Abedeh Abdolghafoorian (email: abedeh@gwmail.gwu.edu)


Accurate estimation of evapotranspiration (ET) is of significant importance for drought monitoring and climate forecasting. ET can be measured most directly by a number of methods such as Bowen ratio and eddy covariance. But “in situ” measurements are costly and therefore are applicable only to local scales and cannot be extended to large areas relevant to hydrological, weather and climate studies.

A suitable alternative to “in situ” measurement of evapotranspiration is utilizing the remote sensing observations for mapping this flux across large areas. Among the numerous techniques developed for this purpose, data assimilation (DA) techniques have gained substantial success in recent years. The DA techniques estimate land surface fluxes by assimilating remotely sensed observations of land surface state variables of soil moisture and land surface temperature within the physical land surface models and provide accurate estimates of surface fluxes at the scale of observation. In this study we apply variational data assimilation (VDA) method to estimate the two main unknown parameters of turbulent heat and moisture fluxes: evaporative fraction (EF) and neutral bulk heat transfer coefficient (CHN). By assimilating land surface temperature observations into the VDA framework, ET can be estimated continuously in time, even for instances in which LST observations are unavailable. This is a significant achievement for monitoring ET as the remotely sensed LST products are typically contaminated by clouds and thus contain temporal gaps. In addition uncertainty of the retrieved ET flux will be retrieved from a Hessian based approach, which utilizes inverse of Hessian of objective function as a measure of error covariance matrix of estimated parameters. Maps of ET and its uncertainty will be used to provide accurate drought index for agricultural drought monitoring.

Investigating the Potential Risk of Hydraulic Fracturing to Water Quality in the Potomac Watershed. Colin Casey, Master’s Degree Candidate, Jessica Balerna, Undergraduate Student, and Karen Knee, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science, American University, Washington, D.C.; and Gabriel Santos, Undergraduate Student, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Contact: Colin Casey (email:cc9869a@student.american.edu), Dr. Karen Knee (email:knee@american.edu)


This project aimed to assess whether hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and activities associated with it could affect water quality in the Potomac River, Washington, DC’s water source. Much of the Potomac’s watershed overlies the Marcellus shale play in the states of

American Water Resources Association National Capital Region Section

Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland; fracking development has already occurred in West Virginia but not in Maryland or in the parts of Virginia that are within the Potomac watershed. We measured specific conductance, pH, radium, and concentrations of dissolved metals that have been associated with fracking in samples from 73 river and stream sites in the Potomac watershed, distributed evenly among the three states, hypothesizing that West Virginia sites would demonstrate evidence of contamination. 224Ra activities were higher in West Virginia and Maryland than in Virginia, partially supporting our hypothesis. No significant differences in 223Ra were observed. Analysis of other Ra isotopes and other parameters is ongoing. Future work includes using strontium isotopes to distinguish fracking pollution from that originating from other sources, such as historical and current coal, oil and gas extraction, as well as combining water quality data with stream discharge to develop a simple model of pollutant loading from fracking within the Potomac watershed.

Predicting Occurrences of Arsenic in Groundwater in Virginia as a Tool for Exposure Assessment. Tiffany VanDerwerker, Master’s Student; Madeline Schreiber, Professor, Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech; Lin Zhang, PhD Student, Department of Statistics, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA Contact: Tiffany VanDerwerker (email: tiffj90@vt.edu)


Arsenic (As) is a known toxin and carcinogen that can occur naturally in aquifers. Because As is naturally occurring, exists in many types of aquifers, is odorless and colorless, and generally does not cause immediate illness, it can be difficult to evaluate if As is a concern in groundwater in a particular region. Although public supply wells are routinely tested for As and other contaminants, homeowners are responsible for testing their own wells, and may not be aware of what potential contaminants could be in their groundwater. Currently, we are constructing a logistic regression model, using existing datasets of soils, geology, geochemistry, and hydrogeology to predict the probability of As concentrations above 5 ppb in groundwater across Virginia. Measured As concentrations in groundwater from state databases are used as the dependent variable. Geology soil series and texture, land use, and physiographic province are used as explanatory variables in the model. Relationships between explanatory variables will be evaluated to see under which conditions As is most probable to occur in groundwater. The results will be used to create a risk assessment map in ArcGIS that will identify areas of Virginia that may have elevated As concentrations in groundwater.

Where ‘life meets rock’: A Critical Zone Perspective on Water Management. Katherine O’Neill, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Environmental Studies Program, Roanoke College, Salem VA Contact: Dr. Katherine O’Neill (email: oneill@roanoke.edu)

American Water Resources Association National Capital Region Section


The Critical Zone represents the upper layer of the Earth’s surface, extending from groundwater to the top of the vegetation canopy, that provides the resources and services critical for supporting living systems and human institutions (described by the National Science Foundation as the zone where ‘life meets rock’; Dybas, 2013). In 2001, interdisciplinary Critical Zone research was identified by U.S. National Research Council as one of the highest priority research areas in the Earth sciences for the 21st century. In recent years, Critical Zone investigators have called for an expanded view of both ecosystems and ecosystem services that more fully incorporates and values the range of processes occurring within the Earth’s Critical Zone. This paper will discuss the frameworks underlying Critical Zone science and Critical Zone services as they relate to water management. Specific examples will be drawn from ongoing research at the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory, an NSF-funded research site focused on quantifying interactions between historical and contemporary land use management, hydrology, soil quality, and ecosystem function.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Water Resources Management. Courtney Greenley, Strategic Communications Fellow, Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alexandria, VA Contact: Courtney Greenley (email:Courtney.L.Greenley@usace.army.mil)


Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) offer a plethora of potential for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works Program and water resources management. They have been touted to track hurricanes, create 3D maps, protect wildlife, assist farmers, locate archaeological sites, improve metrology, and conduct search and rescue among other applications. Small unmanned aircraft systems offer the potential for cost-effective surveys of remote and/or small areas while offering new and improved tools to collect data and aerial imagery. These tools will change the way that water resources managers do business. This presentation will explore the current and potential uses of small UAS.

American Water Resources Association National Capital Region Section


Fouling Mechanisms and Control Strategies in Membrane Filtration of Hanford Tank Waste. Ramamoorthy Malaisamy, Research Scientist; Ryan Rollock, Graduate Student; Yaolin Liu, Postdoctoral Research Associate; and Kimberly Jones, Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

Contact: Dr. Ramamoorthy Malaisamy (email:mramamoorthy@howard.edu)


Microfiltration is planned as the primary separation technology for processing of low-level waste retrieved from underground storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, WA. Cross-flow microfiltration has proven to be an effective method for low-activity radioactive waste volume reduction. However, membrane fouling by inorganic particulates must be overcome to reduce problems with reduced membrane life, reduced flux, altered rejection of particles and increased processing time.

In this study, we analyze the fouling dynamics of boehmite (AlO(OH)), gibbsite (Al(OH)3) and goethite (FeO(OH)), which were identified as the major by-products in Hanford tank waste recovery. These foulants were treated at pH 10, and a transmembrane pressure of 40 psi utilizing a stainless steel, 0.1µM microfiltration membrane in a cross-flow configuration. The fouling behavior was observed in terms of flux decline for the individual foulants and for mixtures of the three foulants. While the feed with boehmite reduced the flux to 50% of the initial level and reached steady state in 2-3 hours, goethite reduced the flux to less than 5% within the first hour of operation. Particle size and SEM analyses revealed that goethite controlled fouling due to the polydisperse nature of the material (particle size ranging from 10-2 to 102 µM). A series of experiments to enhance membrane flux recovery such as the use of powdered activated carbon (PAC) and periodic cleaning of the microfiltration membrane were employed. A combination of the use of powdered activated carbon (PAC) and periodic cleaning helped restore the flux to 70% of the pre-fouling levels. Independently, PAC treatment contributed to a larger percentage of flux recovery than periodic cleaning.

Nanostructured Smart Fluid with UV Switchable Surfactants for Water Pollution Prevention and Removal. Naresh Poudel, Undergraduate Student; Xueqing Song, Associate Professor, Department of Department of Biology, Chemistry & Physics; Jiajun Xu, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

Contact: Dr. Jiajun Xu (email: Jiajun.xu@udc.edu)


Water pollution is a serious problem for human health and the environment and is one of main threats and challenges humanity faces today. In the last decade, many new techniques and methodologies have been proposed to remedy contaminated water which includes using micro/nanostructured membrane/filtration, nanoparticle catalytic, and chemical reaction etc. However, these methods are still evolving and often times, further cleaning/removal of the nanomaterials/surfactants added inside are needed which usually is time


American Water Resources Association National Capital Region Section

consuming and expensive. In this study, a new nanostructured smart fluid system with switchable surfactants, which can “smartly” remove the pollutants along with itself under certain external stimulus was synthesized and investigated experimentally. The results have shown that this new material can undergoe a photoisomerization from its trans to its cis form, which alters the molecular packing at the micellar interface. The result is to transform the long micelles into much shorter entities and, in turn, the solution viscosity decreases by more than 4 orders of magnitude. Attaching this with targeted pollutant, it can be used to removal certain pollutant in water at a higher efficiency within existing wastewater treatment facilities.

MCM Based Hybrid Mesoporous Materials for Water Treatment. Vu, Trinh, Undergraduate Student and Xueqing Song, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Chemistry & Physics; Jiajun Xu, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C.

Contact: Dr. Jiajun Xu (email: Jiajun.xu@udc.edu)


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