The balance between water availability and water demand is driven by regional environmental issues. Recent water-rights disputes between Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, and also between Virginia and Maryland, highlight the problem of water scarcity. Drought events threatened drinking water supplies for communities in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay area in 2001 and 2002; Lake Mead in Las Vegas from 2000 through 2004; the Peace River and Lake Okeechobee in south Florida in 2006; and Lake Lanier in Georgia in 2007. In response, the White House started a new science initiative called “Water Availability and Sustainability.”
In the context of water availability, WRAP scientists and engineers have developed forecasting and assessment tools; two are proposed for water availability in the United States. The first tool employs hydroclimatic periodicity (cyclic variations) to forecast long-term (i.e., decades or millennia) variations or trends in precipitation and stream flows. The second tool is the newly developed water availability index (WAI). This tool is used to forecast water availability in the short term (i.e., days). It combines water quantity and quality data, evapotransporation, soil moisture, and surface water and groundwater flux information into nonparameterized variables in mathematical formulations. Then, with the assistance of satellite imaging, remote sensing, and real-time networked water quality sensors, real-time WAI forecasts can be made.
Dr. Y. Jeffrey Yang, P.E., D.WRE (513) 569-7655
Dr. Ni-Bin Chang, P.E., D.WRE, University of Central Florida (407) 823-1375