NASA has awarded a $1.7 million grant to support several UF Water Institute affiliate faculty, partners at Florida State University (FSU), Tampa Bay Water (TBW) and Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply (PRMRWSA). Drs. Chris Martinez (Agricultural and Biological Engineering), Tracy Irani (Family Youth and Community Sciences), and Jasmeet Judge (Agricultural and Biological Engineering) have teamed up with Vasu Misra (FSU/COAPS), to adapt NASA satellite and model based products to local water supply utilities in Florida. Local partners Tampa Bay Water (TBW, led by Tirusew Asefa) and the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority (PRMRWSA, led by Kevin Morris) will integrate the products into their decision making processes about water resource allocations through streamflow forecasts and Aquifer Storage and Recover (ASR) operations respectively.

All are active members of the Florida Water and Climate Alliance (FloridaWCA), a stakeholder-scientist network coordinated by the Water Institute that seeks to increase the local relevance of climate information, modeling and data. The project, “Integrating NASA Earth Systems Data into Decision-Making Tools of Member Utilities of the Florida Water and Climate Alliance” will link NASA Earth Science products with real-time monitoring and forecasting products that will deliver information to local water utilities at spatial and temporal scales relevant to them. The team will customize seasonal climate forecasts and monitoring tools using NASA products to anticipate variations in the forthcoming seasons for peninsular Florida.

“This award from NASA is a testament of the continued effort by the agency and partners at the FloridaWCA,” says Tirusew Asefa, Manager, Planning & System Decision Support at Tampa Bay Water (TBW). “The use of actionable science for water resources management decisions such as the one proposed by this project could be a model for utilities across the state and beyond.”

TBW, a co-founding member of the FloridaWCA, has been collaboratively working with UF Water Institute and FSU’s COAPS for over a decade. The agency uses state of the practice decision support tools informed by applied research conducted by these institutes. Applications vary from short term operational support to long-term planning activities. “This new project will allow TBW to explore the value of targeted seasonal climate projections in seasonal resource allocation decision support tools,” notes Asefa. “This is especially important at the beginning of dry and/or wet seasons where weather predictions are a challenge and source allocation decisions are heavily dependent on those projections outlooks.”

 “This is a great opportunity realized from years of volunteer collaboration among the team members to advance actionable water and climate science with local utilities,  said Chris Martinez, Project PI. “Sound science and locally relevant information…. that is what we are all about.” 

The team will also study the process, implementation and effectiveness of the integration of the products into the decision-making of the utilities.

Figure caption: The evolution of wet season rainfall (mm/day) shown one day before, day of onset and one day after onset over Peninsular Florida, a region with robust seasonal cycle (Vasu Misra, FSU).