Recap of Water Forum III drought symposium

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extreme rainfall experienced at event about extreme weather

University of Texas, Center for Integrated Earth System Science hosted Water Forum III on 14-15 October 2013. Although the conference is dubbed the Drought Symposium, 12 inches of rainfall certainly drew attention to extreme weather events and their increasingly frequency. 

Although the rain caused local flooding in Austin, most of it fell below the catchment of Lake Travis -- which is the water supply for the City of Austin. Furthermore the lake was only about 30 percent full during this record-setting drought.

Many leading scientists, engineers, and government officials in the hydrology world presented research into causes of drought, ways to manage the water supply, and what the future holds.

The Central Texas Hub (, a joint effort between the University of Texas, KISTERS, and Esri was highlighted as an emerging tool to aid in the management of water resources during drought conditions. The hub has allowed for the integration of observations, operations, and model data within a common framework such that information can be readily shared with decision-makers, first responders, the public -- and other models.

In both the San Antonio and Guadalupe river basins, streamflow, water diversions, reservoir operations and surface runoff parameters are measured by independent data providers. Raw observations are ingested into the hub in real-time, and used in the river routing model known as Routing Application for Parallel computatIon of Discharge (RAPID) ( RAPID is an example of a model as a web service; read the thesis here.

Results of the model are then ingested into the hub, where map and data services are publish information together to a web portal. Systems such as ArcGIS Online allow people to look at flow conditions throughout the whole basin in addition to gauge locations.

This is truly integrated water resource modeling and mapping. Water systems are not just spawned of natural processes, but are also controlled by myriad water infrastructure. Development is needed to supply and protect this vital resource. The hub has enabled both natural processes and infrastructure to be modeled and mapped together.