R&D Forum

Issue 08 and Volume 31.

Study shows Susquehanna reservoirs near sediment capacity

Recently released study results show that reservoirs near the mouth of the Susquehanna River are nearly at capacity in their ability to trap sediment. This is a concern because large storms are delivering increasingly more suspended sediment and nutrients to the Chesapeake Bay, which may negatively affect efforts to improve water quality in the bay.

Excessive nutrients rob the bay of oxygen needed for fish and, along with sediment, cloud the waters, disturbing the habitat of underwater plants crucial for aquatic life and waterfowl. During the period Sept. 7 to 15, 2011, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lee, concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended sediment were among the highest ever measured at a U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge at Conowingo Dam in Maryland.

According to a new report issued by USGS, the Susquehanna River delivered more phosphorus and sediment to the bay during 2011 than from any other year since monitoring began in 1978. On average, the river contributes nearly 41% of the nitrogen, 25% of the phosphorus and 27% of the sediment load to the bay. And from 1996 to 2011, total phosphorus moving into the bay has increased by 55% and suspended sediment by 97%. Total nitrogen has decreased by about 3%.

The lower reaches of the Susquehanna River include three reservoirs behind Safe Harbor and Holtwood dams in Pennsylvania and Conowingo in Maryland. USGS says the 100-foot-high Conowingo Dam traps two-thirds of the 3 million tons of sediment that reach it each year.

USGS says these results highlight the importance of brief high-flow events in releasing nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment stored in the Conowingo Reservoir to the Chesapeake Bay.

This research was conducted as part of the USGS National Research Program in Water Resources and the USGS Chesapeake Bay Ecosystems Program.

The report, Flux of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Suspended Sediment from the Susquehanna River Basin to the Chesapeake Bay during Tropical Storm Lee, September 2011, as an Indicator of the Effects of Reservoir Sedimentation on Water Quality, is available at pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2012/5185.

Reclamation to study hydrography of Rio Grande region

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque Area Office plans to collect hydrographic data on the middle Rio Grande in New Mexico.

Work is to include hydrographic data collection, hydraulic and general engineering, field data and library cataloging services, data entry, and laboratory testing of sediment and geotechnical samples. Reclamation also plans to hire a company to provide environmental services including investigations, compliance support, and monitoring as well as other services related to river hydraulics, mechanics, and geomorphic processes.

The majority of the work is to be performed in New Mexico on the Rio Grande, Rio Chama, and Pecos rivers, primarily on the Middle Rio Grande Project. Other work could be performed in Colorado, Arizona, and Utah.

The cumulative value of the multiple indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contracts Reclamation expects to issue is estimated to be $10 million to $22 million.

Seattle City Light biologist to serve on salmon advisory group

Ed Connor, an aquatic biologist from utility Seattle City Light, has been selected for the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. Connor will join the Puget Sound’s Recovery Implementation Technical Team (RITT), which is a regional advisory group that provides scientific support and guidance for salmon recovery.

“This is a key team working on salmon recovery in the Puget Sound,” Connor says. “It’s an honor to be on it.”

Seattle City Light says Connor’s efforts at the utility have included conservation, restoration and research projects – particularly along Washington’s Skagit River, upon which the utility operates three hydroelectric projects.

RITT says it hopes Connor’s knowledge in river flow management and recovery and research work with chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout bring a new perspective. Connor’s appointment lasts four years, during which time he will help carry out monitoring actions and salmon recovery plans within the Puget Sound. RITT then uses that information to guide the Salmon Recovery Council, watershed groups, state and federal agencies, tribes and conservation groups.

NMFS to study Alaska hydropower’s climate vulnerability

The National Marine Fisheries Service is commissioning a study of the vulnerability of Alaska hydropower production to climate variability and change.

NMFS, a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will hire a contractor to review literature and conduct preliminary analysis of climate and hydrologic variability in Alaska, which has more than 365,000 miles of rivers and 33,000 miles of coastline.

The preliminary analysis is to help NMFS develop measures to protect anadromous salmon and marine mammals and their habitats. Measures are to consider the effects of climate change alone and with hydroelectric project-induced changes.

NMFS says the contractor is to use as a case study the proposed 600-MW Susitna-Watana project. In pursuit of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license for the project, developer Alaska Energy Authority filed a proposed study plan in July to assess potential effects on Alaska’s upper Susitna River.

Navigant acquires Pike Research

Navigant has acquired Pike Research to expand its energy market intelligence and industry report capabilities.

Pike Research develops and publishes more than 100 research reports annually. The company’s research team develops market sizing, forecasting and segmentation for new clean technology markets; analyzes the structure of emerging value chains; provides competitive intelligence and benchmarking services; and assesses demand for new products.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Navigant provides expertise in disputes and investigations, economics, financial advisory and management consulting and supports the construction, energy, financial services and healthcare industries. Navigant’s energy practice is comprised of more than 300 experts who assist utilities, independent power producers, financial entities, law firms, regulators and equipment providers.

EPRI selects Southern Company’s Crosswhite for Board of Directors

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has appointed Mark Crosswhite, chief operating officer of Southern Company, as a member of its Board of Directors.

Since joining Southern Company in 2004 as senior vice president and general counsel for Southern Company Generation, areas Crosswhite oversees include generation, transmission, engineering and construction services, system planning, research and environmental affairs, fleet operations and trading.

Crosswhite joined subsidiary Alabama Power in 2006 as senior vice president and counsel and was named executive vice president in 2008. He was elected president and chief executive officer of subsidiary Gulf Power in 2010.

“We are pleased to have a leader of Mark’s industry experience and vision join our Board of Directors,” says EPRI President and Chief Executive Officer Michael W. Howard. “His belief that technology offers the best solutions to providing affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity makes him well-suited to help guide our research efforts.”

Herrera Environmental to perform studies for Corps

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a US$5 million contract to Herrera Environmental Consultants for environmental services, sediment sampling and analysis in western Washington, western Oregon and southeastern Alaska.

Work is to include characterization of sediments; design of navigation channels and dredging equipment; acoustic Doppler evaluations; wave data analysis; water quality monitoring; environmental and biological assessments; fish habitat analysis; fish and wildlife studies; wetland inventories; and watershed analyses.