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Water management team revolutionizes data collection with cloud-based solution

USACE - Louisville District
Published March 14, 2022
Updated: March 14, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District water management Team – who are responsible for the daily operation of seventeen multi-purpose reservoir projects within the Louisville District and the collection and dissemination of data associated with those projects in regard to reservoir control and water quality – has been busy working to revolutionize USACE processes. 

The water management team is currently developing a web-based user interface, which will allow lake project personnel to input data into the Civil Works Business Intelligence database, eliminating the need for an on-site storage solution. In January, the team started working with the USACE Hydraulic Engineering Center and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory out of Hanover, New Hampshire, to serve as a pilot district for migrating all water management processes to a cloud-based platform. 

“A cloud-based solution for water management processes will eliminate the need for physical storage and a physical server,” said Adam Connelly, Louisville District water management team lead. “Eliminating these pieces of hardware results in a much lower cost of maintaining water management data.” 

A cloud-based solution would also ensure Continuity of Operations Plan, also known as a COOP, in times of emergencies, given the nature of data being available anywhere, anytime, according to Connelly. 

“This migration occurring at an enterprise level would save USACE significant costs and effort trying to prepare and implement existing COOP processes,” Connelly added.
Several critical water management processes would be migrated in this effort. 

“First, all of the hydrologic and hydrometeorological data currently downloaded from the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) and National Weather Service to our database,” Connelly said. “The programs that are used to transform and convert data and models that are used to estimate hydrologic conditions and assist with reservoir operational decisions. Basically, all of the processes needed for water management to successfully complete its mission.”

This paradigm shift will allow water management offices all over the country to eventually migrate their processes to the cloud, resulting in cost-savings due to a reduction of on-site hardware and improving the redundancy of water management data access, according to the team. 

“Louisville District water management is excited to serve as an integral part of this paradigm shift for this agency-wide Water Management initiative,” said Michael Borchers, Hydrology and Hydraulics section chief. 

In addition to piloting the new cloud-based initiative, in February, the Louisville District Water Management Team developed flood inundation maps for the Green and Kentucky Rivers to better understand impacts of the forecasted flood crest. 

“Inundation maps are depictions of where water might reach during flood periods,” said Connelly. “They are developed using hydraulic modeling software and topographic data.” 
The maps were developed in accordance with Great Lakes and Ohio River Division’s Flood Inundation Mapping Standard Operating Procedures, also known as SOP, and were uploaded to the Modeling Mapping and Consequence Center’s flood inundation mapping viewer. 

“The Louisville District was one of the first districts in the country to utilize the MMC Flood Inundation Mapping viewer in real-time as the flood event developed,” Borchers said. “This experience will allow the Water Management Team to meet Flood Inundation Mapping expectations during future flood events and will allow the Louisville District to serve as a resource for other Great Lakes and Ohio River districts for meeting the Region’s Flood Inundation Mapping SOP.”

The flood inundation mapping expectations can vary from event to event, according to Connelly. 

“But in general, if the district is expecting moderate flood stages to be reached on any river system that has a CWMS (Corps Water Management System) model, a map is supposed to be created and uploaded to a web viewer hosted by the MMC,” Connelly said. “This web viewer can be viewed by folks at the regional level and USACE Headquarters.”

Water Management is composed of the Water Control Team and the Water Quality Team. In addition to Borchers and Connelly, the Louisville District Water Management team members includes: Jamie Blanton, Brandon Kolze, Sally Snyder, David Wilson, Melanie Babin, Zac Wolf and Kristin Berger. Water management requires balancing competing interests to successfully operate USACE projects. It is a collaborative effort that requires working closely with federal, state, and local agencies as well as other partners and stakeholders.