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  • Evaluation of Climatic and Hydroclimatic Resources to Support the US Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program

    Abstract: Short-term climatic and hydrologic interactions, or hydroclimatology, are an important consideration when delineating the geographic extent of aquatic resources and assessing whether an aquatic resource is a jurisdictional water of the United States (WOTUS) and is therefore subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA). The now vacated 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) required the evaluation of precipitation and other hydroclimatic conditions to assess the jurisdictional status of an aquatic resource based on normal hydroclimatic conditions. Short-term hydroclimatic conditions, such as antecedent precipitation, evapotranspiration, wetland delineation, and streamflow duration assessments, provide information on an aquatic resource’s geo-graphic extent, hydrologic characteristics, and hydrologic connectivity with other aquatic resources. Here, researchers from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) evaluate tools and data available to practitioners for assessing short-term hydroclimatic conditions. The work highlights specific meteorological phenomena that are important to consider when assessing short-term hydroclimatic conditions that affect the geographic extent and hydrologic characteristics of an aquatic resource. The findings suggest that practitioners need access to data and tools that more holistically consider the impact of short-term antecedent hydroclimatology on the entire hydrologic cycle, rather than tools based solely on precipitation.
  • PUBLICATION NOTICE: Evaluation of the Potential Impacts of the Proposed Mobile Harbor Navigation Channel Expansion on the Aquatic Resources of Mobile Bay, Alabama

    Abstract: This report assesses potential impacts to aquatic resources resulting from proposed navigation channel expansion activities within Mobile Bay, Alabama. This work was conducted for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mobile District, to support development of a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Changes in water quality and hydrodynamics were evaluated for potential impacts to benthic macroinvertebrates, wetlands, submerged aquatic vegetation, oysters, and fish. The assessment includes extensive characterization of baseline conditions, evaluation of estimated post-project conditions related to aquatic resource habitat (e.g., changes in salinity, dissolved oxygen). An analysis of potential impacts related to a 0.5-m sea level rise scenario were also evaluated. Results suggest that no substantial impacts in aquatic resources within the study area are anticipated due to project implementation, as the area of greatest potential changes to environmental conditions are already adapted to natural shifts in salinity (and other factors), and to conditions resulting from the existing navigation channel. Although sea level rise has the potential to alter aquatic resource habitats with Mobile Bay, additional impacts related to project implementation remain negligible under the 0.5-m sea level rise scenario.