A report on the Sacramento and San Joaquin delta ecosystem was released just before Christmas with a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that the abundant rain and snow fall in California over the past year has helped improve the delta’s ecosystem. To keep a small fish known as the delta smelt from extinction and the delta ecosystem from collapse, farmers near the delta were mandated to limit their water intake. This past year provided enough water for the smelt, ecosystem and the farmers. Along with better management in the delta, the ecosystem has seen improvement in many fish species, particularly the smelt and striped bass.
On the other side of the report, the fish species shad did not fair as well as other populations. Even worse is the identification of an invasive aquatic weed known as spongeplant. The plant sits and spreads rapidly on top of the water, choking the river and indigenous aquatic species. The spread of the plant could also have a negative impact on the delta’s pumping and irrigation delivery systems, which experienced problems in the past with the spread of another invasive species called the water hyacinth.
The dry winter is preventing the spongeplant from obtaining the amounts of water it needs, but so then are species like the smelt.
Barringer, Felicity. “California’s Delta Ecosystem Is Healthier, For Now”. Green: The Blog About Energy and the Environment; The New York Times. 29 December, 2011. Web.
Our current project here at IM Rivers, mapping stormwater outfall pipes on the Raritan River, is very important to us. We are learning about this river everyday with the help of a local organization, the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative. Their website has a wealth of information about the Raritan River including information about the basin, clean up efforts, sustainable Raritan River action agenda, news and events, pictures, along with a wealth of resources and data. It is committed groups like these that will save our rivers for future use and recreation. Check out their website and keep checking back for updates!
Photo taken by Dr. Wansoo Im
Scott Jablonski, VERTICES Intern
Here at IM Rivers we have been working on a new project to protect our local river upon which Rutgers University was built; the Raritan River. It is a heavily polluted river, but by taking initiative we hope to clean it up so everybody can enjoy its beauty. After obtaining a GIS shapefile from the Middlesex County Planning Department of outfalls in the county, which I told was a complete database of all storm water outfalls, I noticed that the pipes that I see everyday as part of the Rutgers Crew team were not included in this database. This motivated us to map them ourselves, which we have just begun. In our Interactive Map, you can see both the outfalls in the Middlesex County database and the outfalls that we have begun to map on the Raritan River. In a very short amount of time we were able to map over 25 outfalls which were not in the Planning Departments database! A special thanks to Rutgers Crew Coach Jon Stephanik for his time and efforts helping us with this project. Keep checking back to monitor our progress!
Scott Jablonski, VERTICES Intern
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) has been using GIS technology to quickly and effectively map and analyze data collected about lakes and rivers in western Pennsylvania. Using a commercial fish-finder and Esri software products, the WPC was able to successfully generate extensive bathymetry data for 38.1 miles the Allegheny River in just 36 days. Data was collected by the fish-finder in three second intervals and loaded into the GIS where it was used to create a raster bathymetry layer, which could then be used to create contour lines at any desired intervals. This approach saved the WPC a significant amount of money and the collection methods allow for efficient remapping to monitor areas of special interest over time. Eli Long and Eric Chapman of the WPC noted in their report that “The bathymetry information WPC has collected will be used to prioritize further mussel survey locations and will be a vital part of the River Information System. Combined with river flow, the data can be used to model pollution concentrations, substrate shifts, and sediment deposition. The completed dataset will be a useful tool for a variety of end users from USACE to recreational boaters and academic researchers. With access to a dataset that was, until now, unavailable at this scale and level of detail, GIS users are limited only by their own creativity.”
Read the Full Article by Eli Long and Eric Chapman of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
Source: Esri Online News
Scott Jablonski, VERTICES intern