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2018 Projects

The Water Resources Research Act of 1964 authorized the establishment of a water resources research and technology institute or center at a land-grant university in each state. As a result of the Water Resources Act, the Oklahoma Water Resources Research Institute (OWRRI, currently known as the Oklahoma Water Resources Center) was founded in 1965 at Oklahoma State University. Although headquartered at OSU, the Oklahoma Water Resources Center serves the entire state of Oklahoma. The Center strives to help Oklahoma achieve high levels of water quality and sustainable use of our region’s water through integrated programs of research, education, training, and technology assistance.

Our Water Research Advisory Board decides which projects submitted for funding best suit the state's needs. This Advisory Board met December 12, 2017 to hear proposals from four faculty and two student researchers. Following the presentations Board representatives selected two faculty and two student projects for 2018 funding through the 104(b) Oklahoma Competitive Research Grants. Below are the recipients with brief descriptions of their projects. Final project reports should be available May 2019.

Faculty Researchers

Ochsner field.jpg
Developing Seasonal Streamflow Forecasts to Inform Surface Water Management in Oklahoma
(Tyson Ochsner, Erik Krueger, Briana Wyatt, and Eric Jones)

The forecasting methods developed here will enhance existing, proven streamflow modeling approaches used by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through the incorporation of measured soil moisture data. This project aims to determine how the forecast accuracy improves by updating the initial conditions based on in situ soil moisture observations. Recent studies indicate that in situ soil moisture data can significantly improve water supply forecasts in the US Mountain West for lead times up to 3 months.
If successful, this project will lay the foundation for implementation of the new forecast methods by the NWS and NRCS for the benefit of water managers in Oklahoma and across the nation.


Control of Problematic Halanaerobiales that Limit the Reuse of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids
(Joseph M. Suflita and Irene A. Davidova)

Oil and gas in Oklahoma are regularly extracted from unconventional plays using a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques. Such practices use remarkable volumes of water (up to 1 x 106 barrels/d)1 to fracture formations and increase permeability. Roughly 10-60% of the injected water returns as produced water (PW) with total dissolved solids content up to 300,000 mg/liter. 
This project is designed to explore methods to control the growth and activity of bacteria affiliated with order Halanaerobiales. Control of these organisms will preclude the accumulation of acids and sulfides that are major deterrents to the recycling of PW for subsequent shale fracturing efforts. Thus, less PW will require deep well disposal and reduce the potential for seismic activity. In addition, the reduction of sulfides will render the PW far less corrosive to the prevailing metallic infrastructure and diminish concerns during other PW disposal efforts.

Student Researchers

Conserving Agricultural Water Resources in Oklahoma using Smart Technologies
(Sumon Datta with Dr. Saleh Taghvaeian)

Irrigated agriculture is a major contributor to the economy of Oklahoma and plays a vital role in supplying the demand in food, feed, and fiber utilizing the State’s limited water resources. In Oklahoma, over 400,000 acres of irrigated cropland contribute to 50% of crop revenues. A sizable portion (41%) of total water withdrawals in Oklahoma goes to crop irrigation, making it a prime consumer of water. Therefore, improving irrigation scheduling will have significant impact on total irrigation withdrawals and can lead to water conservation.
Results of this study will provide valuable information on the accuracy, usability, and reliability of several major types of soil water sensors. These results will be helpful in selecting sensors that are suitable for different soils (i.e., clay or loam or sandy soils), or for soils with different salinity levels under different agro-climatic conditions in Oklahoma and will provide growers with local knowledge on best management practices and guidelines when it comes to efficient irrigation management using soil water sensors.


Evaluating the Potential of Sentinel-2 and Landsat Images for Mapping Open Surface Water Body Areas and Water Quality in Oklahoma
(Zhenhua Zou with Dr. Xiangming Xiao)

Open surface water bodies are one of the important sources of water for agriculture, energy, commerce, industry, and public water supply. The numerous open surface water bodies across Oklahoma provide ~64% of the total fresh water withdrawal in Oklahoma. Annual maps of surface water bodies at high spatial resolution are critically important for water resource management. At present, annual water body maps at 30-m spatial resolution, derived from Landsat images, are available. However, streams and ponds with a width smaller than 30-m were not well captured because of the spatial resolution issue. Higher resolution, 10-m maps could be produced using techniques developed in our lab.
The expected results include: (1) open surface water body maps of Lake Texoma, Lake Thunderbird, and Grand Lake at the spatial resolution of 10-m in 2016 and 2017 and (2) reliable algorithms of chlorophyll-a estimation of Oklahoma lakes using Sentinel 2 and Landsat 7/8 images.