Science of Source Water Workshop

(Click here to open complete PDF summary report of the Science of Source Water workshop, including summaries of individual presentations, or go to the agenda below and click individual links for full PDFs of each presentation.)

Everyone who depends on and lives within the Delaware River Basin needs a better understanding of the risks they may face due to ongoing forest loss and related changes (e.g. flooding, reliability related to drought, and key water quality parameters such as temperature and turbidity). Although there are many studies and models looking at these issues in the Delaware, there remain important information gaps and needs for integration. Information on future impacts of land use change and climate change in the Delaware Basin, economic aspects of these impacts, and the value of ecosystem services provided by the headwater s forests is especially lacking. With efforts underway to invest in “green infra structure” as an alternative to conventional stormwater and drinking water infrastructure, it is even more important to determine the costs and benefits associated with the range of options for dealing with future water-related issues across the Basin.

Through discussions with policymakers and water users throughout the Basin, the Pinchot Institute and Common Waters partnership learned of the shared interest to bring together everyone working on these questions and discuss a research agenda that would meet our collective needs. For some time Common Waters had discussed the value of convening scientists and technical experts from agencies, universities, companies, and NGOs with expertise on watershed hydrology, modeling, water quality, land use change, etc.

The primary goal of the resulting workshop, held on June 18, 2013, was to identify the top information needs of water users and other stakeholders that are critical to managing future water-related risks in the Basin but are not being met by existing studies or models. The charge of the consortium going forward will be to:

  1. Review existing data and studies underway on changes in land use and climate, and how this will impact water quality, floods, and d roughts;
  2. Develop an agenda for short - term research to answer water users’ concerns and needs (e.g. modeling, cost - benefit analyses, etc.); and,
  3. Pinpoint additional long-term research needs for companies and other stakeholders and identify appropriate parties to carry out this research in collaboration with others.

This workshop was an effort to s hare and assess current information and identify additional information needs that will help direct efforts to protect green infrastructure and manage water-related risks. It included presentations from experts with knowledge on a range of topics important to understanding the hydrology, chemistry, economics, demographics, and ecology of the Delaware River Basin. The intent was that these presentations would improve our shared understanding of what is already known about the Delaware River from decades of science and management. As we recall, they did so admirably — with plenty of questions along the way. The series of presentations and discussions that followed addressed different aspects of the scientific and economic challenge of assessing the need for source water protection.


9:00 Room Open for Coffee & Danish

9:30 Welcome & Introductions

9:40 Overview. Common Waters & Source Water Protection
Discussion. Key Questions – Science Scoping

10:15 Hydrology, Water Quality, Landcover
(10 to 15 min each presentations followed by Q & A)
Water supply & water quality in the Delaware Basin– Ken Najjar, DRBC
Flooding in the Delaware Basin – Thomas Suro, USGS
Landcover change trends in the Delaware Basin –Univ. of Delaware
● Discussion: Is there a link between source water protection, water quality & quantity?

10 Minute Break

11:15 Uses and Value of Water
Factors influencing water use for energy - Kim Long, Exelon
Floodplain conservation & development cost-benefit analysis - Margaret Walls, RFF
Overview of economic studies & tools - Stephanie Dalke, Pinchot Institute
● Discussion: Is there an economic justification for source water protection?

12:15pm Lunch (Provided)

1:15 Uncertainties
Climate change and the Delaware Basin - Ray Najjar, Penn State Univ.
● Change in landcover in the Upper Basin - Claire Jantz, Shippensburg Univ. [Part 1] [Part 2]
● Discussion: Do these trends & uncertainties change the equation?

2:15 Science Scoping Discussion.
For source water protection, water quality & quantity:
1. What do we know?
2. What are we now learning?
3. What do we still need to know?