Hydrology & Hydraulics

My research in hydrology and hydraulics has been somewhat student driven, focusing on impacts of land development on streamflow regimes – especially baseflow, the hydraulics of stormwater detention basin outlet structures, and methods for interpreting stream conductivity data.

Students have taken an active part in my research through Excel scholarships, independent study projects, or honors theses. These projects often result in presentations at national professional conferences (ASCE, AWRA, GSA, AGU), and in some cases co-authorship on journal papers – excellent prep for graduate school. My students have gone on to a variety of grad programs, including Penn State, Villanova, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Massachusetts, Washington, Stanford, Virginia Tech, etc.

Link to DBRouter, my easy-to-use basin routing program, which you can have for free

Student research projects, past and present:

  • Development of a GIS-based surface and groundwater model for Saucon Township (Zack Benedetto ’14; a collaborative project with Prof. Germanoski of Geol & Environmental Geosciences). Zack won best student paper award at the 2014 AWRA GIS conference for his work!
  • Modeling and experimental investigations of flow through thick-walled concrete orifices (with Tom Barlow ’13). Concrete orifices are often used to control flow rates from detention basins. Typically, thin-plate orifice equations are used in modeling such flow; however, our experiments demonstrate that such equations do not accurately model thick-walled orifices. We developed and tested new empirical models, resulting in two journal papers.
  • Experimental investigation of pipe friction in the critical range between laminar and turbulent flow (a student-driven project with Buddy Thompson ’12). This one ended inconclusively…
  • Development of a GIS-based web tool for landowners in the Delaware River Basin overlying the Marcellus Shale (a student-driven project with Jake Dein ’12). Jake presented his work at the AWRA spring specialty conference on GIS. He later went on to do a Fulbright in Austria on a related project.
  • Development of a simple method for using electric conductivity for stream quality assessment in watersheds with clastic sedimentary bedrock. This project extended previous work in carbonate streams (with Buddy Thompson ’12; a collaborative project with Prof. Kney of Civil & Environmental Engineering). We published a paper on this.
  • Improving understanding of flooding susceptibility. Peak flows per unit watershed area vary greatly, even in areas of similar weather and climate. Empirical regional regression models are widely used to predict flood peaks such as the 100-yr flood; however, they often seem to lack a theoretical basis and thus, they lack general applicability. We are trying to address this issue across several physiographic regions by correlating normalized peak flows (Q2, Q10, Q25, etc) with a variety of watershed characteristics (geomorphology, rainfall, land cover, geology, etc) available through digital sources (with Alec Bernstein ’11; a collaborative project with Prof. Germanoski of Geol & Env Geosciences)
  • GIS investigation of the potential for sedimentation of high quality streams in Pennsylvania by energy development, focusing on wind turbines and gas well exploration. Many of these facilities are being placed in remote headwater regions where they may impact our highest quality streams (with Emily Bernzott ’10)
  • Investigation of patterns in streamflow change in urbanizing watersheds (~50) throughout the northeast U.S. megalopolis (with Tom Voltz ’09 — useful terms and phrases). Urbanization is generally presumed to have the following effects on streamflow: (1) increasing storm runoff volumes, peak flows, and flashiness; and (2) decreasing baseflow volumes and low flows. However, our research indicates that urbanizing watersheds show a variety of responses, with a common pattern being increasing storm runoff volumes, peak flows, and flashiness and stable baseflow volumes and low flows.
  • The annual peak floods on the Delaware River for 2004, ’05, and ’06 all placed within the top ten historical floods. In this project we conducted flood frequency analysis from five USGS gages along the middle and upper Delaware river to determine the impact on the estimated 100-yr base flood elevations. We used both the standard 17B LP3 method and other PDFs (with Dan Kucz ’07).
  • Investigation of the distinct difference in response to urbanization of two nearby and similar watersheds of the Lehigh Valley (with Fred Lott ’06). Project involved GIS analysis of differences in geology, geomorphology, and spatial pattern of urbanization, stormwater modeling, and statistical trend analysis of streamflow data.
  • Investigating the accuracy of SCS curve number (CN) methods for runoff prediction in carbonate watersheds (with Chad Yaindl ’06). Project involved comparing land use-based CN and Tc values with values derived from hydrograph analysis.
  • Investigation of the effect of land development (profile disturbance, compaction) on surface infiltration rates (with Dan O’Neil ’06). Project involved both field measurements and controlled laboratory measurements.
  • Investigation of the runoff sensitivity of small carbonate watersheds of the Lehigh Valley to urbanization (with Mark Battaglia ’06, Fred Lott ’06, Dan O’Neil ’06). This project involved comparative case studies of local watersheds, some of which suffered severe damage during Hurricane Ivan, while others escaped unharmed.
  • Investigation of the effects of urbanization on stream baseflows in the Delaware River basin (with Michael Nilson ’05). This project demonstrated that the standard assumption of reductions in recharge and baseflow due to increases in imperviousness is too simple a conceptual model. In fact, many urban watersheds actually have stable or increasing baseflow.
  • Investigation of the effect of agriculture on wetlands adjacent to Lake Victoria, Uganda; a collaborative project with Profs Ruggles, Kney, and Jones of Civil & Environmental Engineering and faculty of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda (Chad Yaindl ’06, Rachel Oleski ’06)
  • Development of a new method for using electric conductivity and alkalinity measurements for stream quality assessment in watersheds with carbonate bedrock; a collaborative project with Prof. Kney of Civil & Environmental Engineering (Maura Allaire ’06, Joe Goodwill ’04, Jason Boyd ’04). We published a paper on our method.
  • Correlation of baseflow recession constants and 7-day low flows with watershed hydrogeomorphic parameters. Statistical analyses showed that baseflow recession rates can be predicted by knowing watershed drainage density and soil type (with Justin Hoffmann ’02, James Mangarillo ’03)
  • Laboratory simulation of cosolvent flushing for remediation of aquifers contaminated with chlorinated solvents. The project involved using alcohol mixtures to displace the contaminant from 2-D porous media packings, and digital imaging of the system during operation. In July 01, we conducted a field application of alcohol flushing at the Dover AFB, DE, in cooperation with researchers at Clemson University. (with Sandy Doyle ’01; May Chui ’03)
  • Instrumentation and automated hydrologic data collection in the Bushkill Creek Watershed; a collaborative project with Prof. Germanoski of the Dept of Geology and Env. Geosciences and the Bushkill Stream Conservancy (click here for more information). (Justin Hoffmann ’02, Jeremy Lucas ’03, James Mangarillo ’03)