Monday, November 7, 2016

URSP Student Beverly Lanza Investigates the Effects of Upstream Water Supply Withdrawals on the Potomac River

My name is Beverly Lanza. I am a senior pursuing an accelerated BS/MS in Civil Engineering with a focus in Water Resources. During my junior year I got involved in the Flood Hazards Lab of the Civil Engineering Department. While working in the lab, I became more interested in learning more about water resources. Water is a very important part of our lives. There are many issues concerning water such flooding, water quality, droughts, water scarcity, etc. Therefore, as a prospective engineer, I hope to become part of a team that helps find solutions to water issues.

Now, this is what drew me to want to research something related to droughts in our area. I expressed to my mentor, Dr. Celso Ferreira that I wanted to conduct research. He then later connected with the Director of CO-OP operations, Cherie Schultz from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. As we collaborate with the Commission, our goal is to investigate the effects of upstream water supply withdrawals (consumptive use) on the Potomac River and how upstream reservoir storages mitigate consumptive use.
As the semester started, I created an inventory of all the dams in the upstream basin on the Potomac River. Then using ArcGIS I was able to eliminate all the dams that were not related to water supply. The dam inventory includes a number a categories such as owner name, storage capacity, connecting tributaries, and location. As of now, I am doing an inventory of all the water supply companies and their demands. This will help me calculate the consumptive use value. Also, on a weekly basis I try and inform my mentor about my progress. If I have any questions I can always go to him or Cherie Schultz for help.

I really hope that by conducting this research not only could it benefit the Potomac River Basin commission but other basin commissions around the nation and even around the world.