Clean Currents 2022

Showcase of the 2022 Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters

Presentations are:
Developing a Watershed Conservation Program to Improve the Long-Term Water Quality of Grand Lake, presented by Darrell Townsend, Grand River Dam Authority

Improving Seasonal Water Resource Management Theory-Guided Machine Learning Inflow Forecasting, presented by Daniel Palmer, Upstream Tech

Unlocking the Power of Ocean Waves for Sustainable Energy Access, presented by Daniel Petcovic, Chief Operating Officer, CalWave Power Technologies, Inc.

Details about each presentation and the speakers are below.

Developing a Watershed Conservation Program to Improve the Long-Term Water Quality of Grand Lake, presented by Darrell Townsend, Grand River Dam Authority, presented by Darrell Townsend, Grand River Dam Authority

Hydroelectric projects nationwide are facing increased threats on ecosystem services and economic development from nutrient pollution. These threats are leading to recurring harmful algal blooms that are negatively impacting economic activity at our nation’s most popular recreational destinations and contaminating the drinking water of local municipalities.

Project mitigation and enhancement measures incentivized by state and federal funding opportunities often focus on immediate project areas or single species enhancement, resulting in short-term, small-scale outputs with limited success for addressing underlying conditions. Since harmful algal blooms are the bi-product of phenomena occurring at large temporal and spatial scales, sources of funding need to be accessible and efficiently used for equally large-scaled projects.

The concept of watershed management is not new, but rarely implemented or supported by state and federal dollars available to the hydropower industry. As a result, watershed-scale management will require a paradigm shift in our approaches to hydropower funding designed to improve reservoir water quality and enhance recreation.

The Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) developed a watershed management support system tool that allows the asset owner to identify and implement conservation easements that have proven to be the most cost-effective best management practices for improving water quality across multiple metrics, including nutrient mitigation, increased dissolved oxygen, fecal bacteria reduction, sedimentation reduction, etc.

To date, GRDA has enrolled 471 acres within the watershed into long-term, 30-year conservation easements. GRDA continues to enroll new easements and measure the environmental outcomes of these easements to help curtail the frequent formation of harmful algal blooms in Grand Lake.


Improving Seasonal Water Resource Management Theory-Guided Machine Learning Inflow Forecasting, presented by Daniel Palmer, Upstream Tech

As hydropower operators navigate a new normal in which extreme high flows and droughts have become more common, long-term planning is both harder and more essential than ever.

Seasonal scale inflow forecasting can help operators manage their reservoirs to minimize spilling during wet months and ensure water availability as far into dry periods as possible, as well as to meet license requirements, plan for maintenance, and predict revenue. That said, changing climatic conditions mean that traditional forecasting methods, such as relying on long-term historical averages or expecting consistent relationships between precipitation and inflow, provide less predictive power than they used to. In 2021, the Colorado river basin received 84% of its median snowpack, but only 58% of the expected streamflow.

New methods that have been validated for improving short-term forecasting skill, including theory-guided machine learning and incorporating broader data, are also promising for providing operators with higher quality seasonal data so they can make more informed decisions, earlier. This presentation will explore a number of these methods and discuss both how they are being used operationally already, as well as how utilities can incorporate them into their decision-making systems. The goal is for water resource managers, operations teams, and traders to come away with a concrete understanding of the state-of-the-art research, tools that they can develop and deploy, and how to go about integrating these new tools into their systems.

Unlocking the Power of Ocean Waves for Sustainable Energy Access, presented by Daniel Petcovic, Chief Operating Officer, CalWave Power Technologies, Inc.

CalWave Power Technologies Inc. successfully commissioned its CalWave x1™ on September 16, 2021, off the coast of San Diego. This milestone event marks California’s first at-sea, long-duration wave energy pilot operating fully submerged. It’s now the longest running wave energy project ever offshore the continental U.S.

The objectives for the pilot included testing and validating installation procedures, operations, autonomous controls, performance, reliability, and survivability of CalWave’s xWave™ system in open ocean. The installation took roughly 1.5 hours once towed to the site. The device has continued to operate safely without downtime in all sea states since.

The system’s tidal adjustment, performance optimization, and shutdown mechanisms have shown to be reliable and robust, operating fully autonomously since November 2021. Performance in terms of loads, motions, and power output has met expected ranges and show no decline at 99.8% system uptime. Further, the device has survived two ten-year storm events since deployment, representative of 50-foot waves at full scale, using CalWave’s Holistic Control™ approach which reaches beyond typical drivetrain control.

Presenter Information

LeRoy Coleman

LeRoy Coleman
Director of Communications
National Hydropower Association (NHA)
Moderator


Darrell Townsend

Darrell Townsend
Vice President
Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA)
Presenter


Daniel Palmer

Daniel Palmer
Business Development - HydroForecast
UpstreamTech
Presenter


Daniel Petcovic

Daniel Petcovic
Chief Operating Officer
CalWave Power Technologies, Inc.
Presenter