Nav: Home

UTA research predicting lake levels, moving water to yield better data for water providers

December 03, 2015

A University of Texas at Arlington environmental engineer is creating an integrated decision support tool for optimal operation of water supply systems that will allow water providers to make better decisions about when to turn on pumps to transfer water from one reservoir system to another and when to release water downstream from the reservoirs.

DJ Seo, associate professor in the Civil Engineering Department, will use a two-year $283,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office to forecast inflows into water supply reservoirs and to generate optimal solutions for operation of water supply systems for major water providers in the region. He will collaborate on the project with the Tarrant Regional Water District, the National Weather Service, the Trinity River Authority and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Seo's work will begin with an examination of the past.

"We can go back 30 years and operate, as if in real time, a system of reservoirs and pipelines with and without the inflow forecast information. It's called hindcasting," Seo said. "When a large water provider decides to turn on a pump to transfer water from one system to another, it requires a lot of energy and costs a lot of money. By utilizing the forecast information for precipitation, temperature and inflow, the water providers will be able to save energy while maintaining or improving the lake levels."

Seo said the extreme weather patterns in North Texas, which have included severe drought and flooding recently, has those water providers seeking better information with which to make their decisions.

"We want to make use of as much skillful forecast information as possible in the decision-making process," Seo said.

The system - called the Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast System - could provide even greater savings with a project like the 150-mile Integrated Pipeline Project. Tarrant Regional Water District and the City of Dallas are building that $2.3 billion project, which should be partially operational by 2018. The IPL will pump water from Lake Palestine to Dallas Water Utilities customers. The IPL also will pump water from Cedar Creek and Richland Chambers reservoirs to TRWD customers.

Seo said ensemble forecasts from HEFS would provide the large water providers in the region with a range of possible values that could lead to more cost-effective decisions.

Other partners on the project include: Laura Blaylock, TRWD manager of energy and water management; Courtney Jalbert, TRWD meteorologist; Glenn Clingenpeel, TRA executive manager, planning and environmental services; Frank Bell and Andrew Philpott, NWS West Gulf River Forecast Center hydrologists, Arne Winguth, UTA associate professor in oceanography, earth and environmental sciences; Nick Fang, UTA assistant professor in civil engineering; and James Brown, director of Hydrologic Solutions Limited in the United Kingdom.

TRWD's Laura Blaylock said that collaboration with Dr. Seo on this project will assist TRWD in applying hydrologic data to forecast future water demands and sources.

"TRWD is committed to responsible stewardship of the water supplies in the region. Optimization of existing water resources is integral to ensuring that future water demands are met."

Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the College of Engineering, said Seo's work helps safeguard North Texas' most essential natural resource and targets two of UTA's strategic goals of managing natural resources and building sustainable communities.

"Water resources management has increasingly become important for North Texas, as the population of the area is increasing at a very rapid pace," Behbehani said. "Dr. Seo's work is essential to making better water management decisions. His findings will help the region optimize the use of the most important natural resource we have. The research could also provide other regions around the state and nation with a significant tool to most effectively manage their water resources."

The new prediction and forecasting project is not Seo's first in water management.

He also is using a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to improve sustainability of large urban area from extreme weather, urbanization and climate change. For that research, Seo is leading a team of researchers who will integrate data from advanced weather radar systems, innovative wireless sensors and crowdsourcing of data via cell phone applications to create high-resolution modeling of urban water systems. The data could produce a suite of products for flash flood forecasting, storm water management and a number of other tools.

Seo also helped lead the effort to bring the Collaborative Atmospheric Sensing of the Atmosphere or CASA radar system to UTA. The University, along with government and higher education partners, installed the first radar station in North Texas. It sits atop Carlyle Hall.

The CASA system provides weather data every minute compared to every five to six minutes with previous weather radar systems. CASA can adapt to focus on smaller areas, giving the users more detailed information to better monitor and track storms and precipitation.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a "Best for Vets" college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UT Arlington rankings and recognition at

University of Texas at Arlington

Related Engineering Articles:

Engineering a new cancer detection tool
E. coli may have potentially harmful effects but scientists in Australia have discovered this bacterium produces a toxin which binds to an unusual sugar that is part of carbohydrate structures present on cells not usually produced by healthy cells.
Engineering heart valves for the many
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the University of Zurich announced today a cross-institutional team effort to generate a functional heart valve replacement with the capacity for repair, regeneration, and growth.
Geosciences-inspired engineering
The Mackenzie Dike Swarm and the roughly 120 other known giant dike swarms located across the planet may also provide useful information about efficient extraction of oil and natural gas in today's modern world.
Engineering success
Academically strong, low-income would-be engineers get the boost they need to complete their undergraduate degrees.
HKU Engineering Professor Ron Hui named a Fellow by the UK Royal Academy of Engineering
Professor Ron Hui, Chair Professor of Power Electronics and Philip Wong Wilson Wong Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hong Kong, has been named a Fellow by the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, one of the most prestigious national academies.
Engineering a better biofuel
The often-maligned E. coli bacteria has powerhouse potential: in the lab, it has the ability to crank out fuels, pharmaceuticals and other useful products at a rapid rate.
Pascali honored for contributions to engineering education
Raresh Pascali, instructional associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology Program at the University of Houston, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Ross Kastor Educator Award.
Scaling up tissue engineering
A team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard John A.
Engineering material magic
University of Utah engineers have discovered a new kind of 2-D semiconducting material for electronics that opens the door for much speedier computers and smartphones that also consume a lot less power.
Engineering academic elected a Fellow of the IEEE
A University of Bristol academic has been elected a Fellow of the world's largest and most prestigious professional association for the advancement of technology.

Related Engineering Reading:

Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology (100 Ponderables)
by Tom Jackson (Editor) (Author), Tom Jackson (Editor)

Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam, 13th Ed
by Michael R. Lindeburg PE (Author)

Basic Machines and How They Work
by Naval Education And Training Program (Author)

Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction
by William D. Callister Jr. (Author), David G. Rethwisch (Author)

The Engineering Book: From the Catapult to the Curiosity Rover, 250 Milestones in the History of Engineering (Sterling Milestones)
by Marshall Brain (Author)

Shigley's Mechanical Engineering Design (McGraw-Hill Series in Mechanical Engineering)
by Richard G Budynas (Author), Keith J Nisbett (Author)

Mathematical Methods for Physics and Engineering: A Comprehensive Guide
by K. F. Riley (Author), M. P. Hobson (Author), S. J. Bence (Author)

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology
by John Tomczyk (Author), Eugene Silberstein (Author), Bill Whitman (Author), Bill Johnson (Author)

Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach
by Yunus A. Cengel Dr. (Author), Michael A. Boles (Author)

Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems
by Niall Richard Murphy (Author), Betsy Beyer (Author), Chris Jones (Author), Jennifer Petoff (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

We're told if the economy is growing, and if we keep producing, that's a good thing. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers explore circular systems that regenerate and re-use what we already have. Guests include economist Kate Raworth, environmental activist Tristram Stuart, landscape architect Kate Orff, entrepreneur David Katz, and graphic designer Jessi Arrington.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#504 The Art of Logic
How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions.