The Gila-Salt-Verde River System: Improving River Forecasts and Emergency Management through Visualization
The Gila-Salt-Verde River System:
Improving River Forecasts and
Emergency Management through
Douglas Blatchford, PE
Pennsylvania State MGIS Program
Advisors: Dr. Miller, Dr. Reed, Dr. Kollat
Geography 596A, Summer 2013
Colorado River/Gila River Systems
Operation and emergency management forecast web apps in
the Phoenix metropolitan area
Goals and objectives
Enhance existing web-based tools through visualization
Develop mash-up based on Google Map API
Gila is a major tributary to the Colorado River System
Flows through southern Arizona
Dams provide water supply and flood protection for
Phoenix metro area
Dams operated by Salt River Project (SRP) and the
United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE)
Operations forecast is key to managing water
Colorado River Basin
-Colorado River supplies water to
municipalities and irrigators
throughout the West
-Dams along the river are operated to
meet water user demands in Arizona
California , Nevada and Mexico
-Accessed from the Colorado River Water Users Association
(CRWUA), July 2013 from
Gila River Basin
-Gila-Salt-Verde River system, New
Mexico and Arizona as related to the
-Flow along the Gila at Yuma affects
major operations of Colorado River
and water levels in Lake Mead,
behind Hoover Dam
Accessed July 2013 from
Gila-Salt-Verde River system drains
through Phoenix metropolitan area.
SRP facilities provide water supply
and flood control protection.
Dams include :
-Painted Rock and Coolidge
-Stewart Mountain, Mormon Flat,
Horse Mesa and Roosevelt
-Bartlett and Horse shoe
The Colorado River Basin Forecast Center
(CBRFC) issues forecasts online for the
Gila-Salt-Verde River system as well as
other major rivers in the basin.
Accessed July 2013 from the CBRFC (http://www.cbrfc.noaa.gov/)
River operators and emergency
managers typically access existing
and future gage data.
Accessed July 2013 from
Gila River watershed from CBRFC
Accessed July 2013 from
USACE provides a webpage with links
to Gila-Salt-Verde River system and
USGS gage sites.
-Provides easier access to existing data
-No forecast modeling like CBRFC
Accessed July 2013 from:
Visual analytics is an outgrowth of the fields of:
Facilitated by interactive visual interfaces
Goal is to process data for analytic discourse
Constructive evaluation, correction, and rapid
development of processes and models
This ultimately improves our knowledge and decisions
Goals and Objectives
Develop a “one-stop” source of web-based forecasts
for the Gila-Salt-Verde system
Implement web-based prototype and tool using the
concepts of visual analytics
Increase SRP and USACE operational efficiency
Develop mash-up to be tested by operators at USACE
Use a Google Map API, with Fusion Tables
Includes gage, dam and other hydrographic information
Visual analysis will be tested by timing access to
Questionnaire developed for operators, asking to
access gage data from the prototype or from the
CBRFC or USACE websites
Painted Rock Dam on the west to Coolidge on the east
Designed as a prototype specific to SRP/USACE
Further work will be necessary to offer more capabilities
Anticipated outcome: will take less time to access forecast
Existing mash-ups already use National Climatic Database
(NCDB) such as WunderMap
Taken from Weather Underground (accessed July 2013 from
August 14 to September 30 – Complete Mash-up
October 1 to October 23 – Complete testing and
May 12-14, 2014 - Present paper at American Water
Resources Association Spring Specialty Conference in
GIS and Water Resources, Decision Support in Water
Resources, Salt Lake City (permission pending)
Propose to develop prototype Mash-up based on
The intent is to enhance river operations forecasting
along the Gila-Salt-Verde River System
Concepts of visual analytics will be used to develop
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