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GLIN==> MDEQ, USGS scientists to unveil new, computer-based flow model in St. Clair/Detroit River



News Release: May 19, 2000
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

MDEQ, USGS Scientists Hope New Project Will “Buoy” Drinking Water Protection

****NOTE TO EDITORS: News crews are invited to join scientists on the
Detroit River on May 23, 2000, at 10 a.m., to get footage of the buoy
prject. For more information call: Dave Holtschlag at (517) 887-8910. ****

MDEQ and USGS scientists, starting May 23, will begin a new phase in a
project to model the flow of the St. Clair – Detroit River Waterway. The
new, computer-based flow model will enable managers to better protect the
drinking water supply for 4 million people in the Detroit area.

Next week, scientists from USGS, with support from MDEQ, USACE, and
Environment Canada will deploy 10 buoys within the Detroit River.  These
drifting buoys are equipped with GPS (global positioning system) units that
transmit their position every 90 seconds.  Dave Holtschlag, project chief
for this study for USGS, explains that the buoy measurements will help
scientists understand the general movement and dispersion of particles
within the waterway.  In particular, the way the buoys move-- whether they
stay together or disperse as they move downstream, and whether they travel
in a straight path or meander --will help assess the susceptibility of
public water supply intakes to contaminants from various sources.

The model has many potential uses, according to Brad Brogren, of MDEQ’s
Drinking Water and Radiological Protection Division:
 Identifying where the water comes from that supplies public water to 16
municipal water treatment plants in Southeast Michigan.
 Determining the impacts of tributary flows, wastewater treatment facility
discharges, storm sewer outfalls, and combined sewer overflows on water
quality.
 Enhancing emergency preparedness by providing a tool for predicting the
movement of discharges from wastewater treatment facilities and spills.
 Describing lake circulation patterns to help understand their impact on
source water areas and critical habitats.
 Providing a basis for understanding the effects of dredging on flow and
sediment transport.

The waterway, which connects Lake Huron with Lake Erie, has three major
components: St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and Detroit River.  The model
computes water-surface elevations and flows through the waterway, which
average about 200,000 cubic feet per second.

Accurate streambed elevation data are needed for model development.
Existing data, originally obtained in the late 1950s and early 1960s, are
being updated this year to document current conditions in the waterway.  In
April 2000, NOAA started the new survey using a single-beam echo sounder.
Over 1100 cross sections will be collected throughout the connecting
channels. The new data will be available in September 2000 to describe the
current flow geometry.  This data also will subsequently be used to update
navigational charts.

The model is being developed for the Michigan Source Water Assessment
Program by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) through funding agreements with
the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), and Detroit Water
and Sewerage Department.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) is assisting under contract with MDEQ, and U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (USACE) is assisting under contract with USGS. The U.S.
Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada are
also involved with the model’s workgroup.

In spring 2001, a report will document the development process and the
capabilities of the flow model.  The flow model will be utilized by MDEQ to
complete source water assessments for the public water supplies on this
waterway.  The model is expected to also provide a basis for further studies
of particle movements, water chemistry, and sediment transport within the
waterway.  An electronic version of the report will be accessible for public
information.  Further information on the Source Water Assessment Program in
Michigan can be found on the internet at
http://www.deq.state.mi.us/dwr/SWA/swa.htm.  Further information about U.S.
Geological Survey work on this and other projects can be found at
http://mi.water.usgs.gov.

As the nation’s largest water, earth and biological science and civilian
mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000
organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, scientific
information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This
information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the
loss of life and property from natural disasters, to contribute to the
conservation and the sound economic and physical development of the nation’s
natural resources, and to enhance the quality of life by monitoring water,
biological, energy, and mineral resources.

In-depth information about USGS programs may be found on the USGS home page
at http://www.usgs.gov. To receive the latest USGS news releases
automatically by e-mail, send a request to listproc@listserver.usgs.gov.
Specify the listserver(s) of interest from the following names: water-pr;
geology-pr, geologic-hazards-pr; biological-pr; mapping-pr; products-pr;
lecture-pr. In the body of the message write: subscribe (name of listserver)
(your name). Example: water-pr joe smith.

Contact: Dave Holtschlag, email djholtsc@usgs.gov
phone 517-887-8910, fax 517-887-8937



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