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TTU News

In response to the 2007 record drought, Tennessee Tech University's Center for the Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources is once again taking the lead in making water-related technology and resources available to the public.

Water limitations brought to light by the drought prompted the state to evaluate water resources to improve planning. Now, the center is teaming with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologics Inc., and other universities through the Tennessee Watershed and Regional Water Resources Modeling program to offer Hydrologics' OASIS software on a statewide platform.

OASIS is a tool that allows stakeholders, including cities, power facilities, environmentalists, and agriculturalists, to model any type of water system from small to complex. According to Hydrologics, OASIS "uses a graphical interface that enables data to be entered as a series of easily stated rules and constraints, making the software easy to learn and use, even without programming knowledge."

The center's geographical information systems coordinator and research and development engineer Yvette Clark is spearheading this project and will oversee the Tennessee OASIS server that will be housed at Tennessee Tech. The center will develop the Internet interface through which the server will be available and will provide the infrastructure to allow access, training and fee-based technical expertise for those stakeholders who would be using the OASIS software.

"This software is designed for engineers and other technical personnel," Clark said. "They'll be able to input data to produce a water supply model that will help city planners deal with water-related issues like droughts."

The Tennessee OASIS model will incorporate data from various locations throughout the state, including Portland, White House, Gallatin, Castalian Springs, Monteagle, Sewanee, Tracy City and the Duck River region. And, along with TDEC, Tennessee Tech will provide three training workshops on using the software.

The state organized a Water Resources Technical Advisory Committee to make recommendations on water resource issues. One of the committee's recommendations was to pilot regional water resource planning projects and develop a model regional water plan for the state. The Hydrologics software provided the outlet for that planning.

TDEC, the USACE's Nashville District, members of the Water Resources Technical Advisory Committee, and other regional planning experts partnered in 2008 to initiate a water resources planning pilot in two areas significantly impacted by the drought of 2007: North Central Tennessee and the Southern Cumberland region. The committee felt that these pilot projects would provide a planning framework for sustainable growth and water demand while protecting all uses of our waters. These projects are near completion. The OASIS software has been used in both project areas as well as by the Duck River Agency.

The center will build on the work completed through these two pilot studies and make the OASIS software available to technical and nontechnical users across the state. The existing pilot studies mentioned above will be accessible as well as the Duck River model. Technical users will be able to make changes to those models and generate different outputs, which will be available online to the technical users and the general public, or entirely new studies can be developed.

"The overall purpose of this work is to lead the state in developing water resources planning guidelines," Dennis George, environmental engineer and center director, said. "Right now, we have tentatively been promised initial funding, but it is important to continue the project as the OASIS software potentially allows for extensive uses in city, county, and regional hydrologic modeling."