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North American Stream Hydrographers 2016 Symposium

A North American Stream Hydrographers (NASH) symposium and special general meeting was held at the CWRA 2016 conference in Montreal providing an opportunity for those engaged in advancing the science and practice of hydrometry to meet and exchange ideas.

The 2016 symposium was modest in scale with only eight presentations (summarized below). However, there was an enthusiastic discussion about growing the event for next year. Paul Whitfield, Senior Research Fellow for the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan, is the liaison for NASH on the CWRA 2017 conference in Lethbridge Alberta. The theme of this conference is “Water: A Continental Asset” which aligns perfectly with the spatial scale of NASH. This should create opportunity to be more inclusive with our colleagues from US and Mexico than previous events have been.

The 2017 symposium will be modeled, more or less, on NZ Hydrological Society workshops, Australian Hydrographers Association Conventions and the USGS data conference. It will be focused on issues of importance to field hydrographers, be agency and jurisdiction agnostic, and will advance the state of the art of hydrometric monitoring. The symposium will also be paired with workshops. There are currently two proposals for field workshops and one proposal for a ratings workshop.

Of the eight papers presented this year, four were on discharge measurement techniques, including three on salt dilution gauging and one on the development of a Transparent Velocity Head Rod.

The papers on dilution gauging advance our understanding of the uncertainties and limitations of the method, which is a basic requirement for every practitioner in order to produce trustworthy discharge data. The Transparent Velocity Head Rod is a welcome alternative to acoustic instruments for measurements of depth and velocity. This instrument can be built from readily available materials for a cost less than $200 and has been tested with over 2400 paired measurements and has proven to be very similar accuracy to FlowTracker measurements. Like every measurement method it does have limitations that the user needs to be aware of but it can serve the purpose for many agencies that lack a large capital budget for monitoring.

The other four papers were on extracting information from hydrometric data.

John Sloat presented on a novel approach for adding a length dimension to hydrometric gauging. Initial deployments of hydro-acoustic technology have been coerced to conform to the 2D view of a conventional cross section but hydro-acoustics allow for a more information-rich 3D data domain that remains to be fully exploited. Megan Kondakow presented a paper on how, and why, Water Survey of Canada is evaluating the complexity of stage-discharge rating curves. Paul Whitfield presented on a retrospective analysis of the Bow River and I presented on a prototype for a Machine Learning system for development of index-velocity ratings.

There are a lot of people struggling with difficult monitoring problems all across North America and it is extremely inefficient for everyone to be seeking solutions in isolation of others with the same or similar problems.

In particular it can be very difficult for those in the consulting and engineering industry to get access to hydrometric training resources and exposure to current best practices. NASH is a great way to overcome these problems. I am hoping we will get a very large turnout in Lethbridge.

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