Oklahoma Water Resources Center

2009 Funded Projects

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State-Funded Projects

Alternative Water Conservation Policy Tools for Oklahoma Water Systems

Principal Investigators and Department:
Dr. Damian C. Adams and Dr. Larry D. Sanders, Agricultural Economics; Dr. Michael D. Smolen, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University

The goal of this project is to increase water managers' and other stakeholders' awareness of: (1) available alternative water conservation policy tools, (2) their feasibility for local conditions, and (3) their relative costs and water savings. Using a literature review, surveys and expert panels, researchers will identify and evaluate water conservation policy tools that are suitable for local conditions in Oklahoma. The researchers will synthesize the results and report the findings to stakeholders as appropriate. This project is expected to generate valuable information that can be used to support the efforts of the Comprehensive State Water Plan process and help communities decide what conservation tools may fit their short- and long-term water needs.

Stream Depletion by Ground Water Pumping: A Stream Depletion Factor for the State of Oklahoma

Principal Investigators and Department:
Dr. Garey A. Fox and Dr. Mike Kizer, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Oklahoma State University

This project will develop a standardized method for determining the effects of alluvial ground water pumping and/or recharge on stream flow in Oklahoma. Elsewhere, a stream depletion factor (SDF) has been developed for this purpose but is based on analytical solutions that do not adequately represent alluvial aquifer systems. This effort will utilize state-of-the-art analytical solutions to develop an Oklahoma SDF. Specific tasks include: (1) measuring streambed conductivity in two alluvial river systems using grain size analyses and/or falling head permeameter tests; (2) developing a database of geologic information and aquifer parameters for specific reaches of these rivers; (3) long-term monitoring of stream and ground water levels during both recharge and pumping conditions and field testing existing SDFs; and (4) developing a modified SDF for these rivers. This improved SDF will allow water managers to determine short-term and/or long-term impact of ground water pumping on the availability of surface water.

Quantification of water fluxes and irrigation use through remote sensing

Principal Investigators and Department:
Dr. Baxter Vieux and Dr. Yang Hong, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences, University of Oklahoma

This project is a continuation of the project lead by Dr. Hong in 2008 which demonstrated that remote sensing can be used to estimate the evapotranspiration from cultivated lands in the Oklahoma panhandle and can potentially be applied to water use and availability studies over broad areas in Oklahoma. This year the researchers will extend this work to include rural and urban areas, different climatic conditions, and quantify the amount of water flux in excess of precipitation that is derived from irrigation. This project will examine trends over time and space associated with agricultural irrigation and urban areas water use. Irrigation application in the Lugert Altus district and in Texas County will be estimated. By considering precipitation and detailed vegetative cover and the land surface, more accurate estimates of water usage can be produced. Future significance of this work is the application of this technique to better quantify water use in urban areas and areas where the economy depends heavily on irrigated agriculture. Water management practices of drip irrigation, low or no-till agriculture, salt cedar eradication efforts could potentially be measured by the methods developed through this research.


Federally Funded Project:

Eastern redcedar encroachment and water cycle in tallgrass prairie

Principle Investigators:
Chris Zou, Don Turton, Rod Will, Samuel Fuhlendorf, David Engle, and Kim Winton

Land based water cycle and water supplies to streams and groundwater are heavily influenced by vegetation and vegetation change resulting from management. In the Great Plains, tallgrass prairie is rapidly transforming to woodland largely by the encroachment of eastern redcedar trees. Using Oklahoma as an example, of the 17 million acres of rangeland including prairie, eight million acres are currently overgrown with eastern redcedar. That number is increasing. Given the speed, magnitude and extent of the observed and projected encroachment, a logical question is: how and will increases in eastern redcedar cover modify streamflow and raw water supplies in the Great Plains states where water shortages are increasing? Our understanding of such effects is limited to somewhat inconclusive results from studies on semiarid savanna ecosystems. Therefore, a climate and site-specific investigation focusing on mesic prairies of the Great Plains is urgently needed considering long-term water planning is ongoing for most of these affected states. The overall objectives are to develop an improved understanding of the effects of eastern redcedar encroachment in tallgrass prairie on ecohydrological processes and potential effect on water supplies.

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