Resources - Summer 2014 Newsletter

Summer 2014 Newsletter


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

On May 6, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a web-based interactive tool, EnviroAtlas. The atlas is meant to help decision makers understand the implications of planning and policy decisions on ecosystems and the communities that depend on them for goods and services. Designed for everyone interested in the impacts of a decision, such as siting a new road or city park, EnviroAtlas is available to anybody with access to a computer and an internet connection. No special software is needed. EnviroAtlas integrates more than 300 separate layers of geospatial data from a variety of sources. Key components are an interactive map, a browser that shows linkages between ecosystems, the services they provide and human health, and resources including GIS and analysis tools. A video tutorial is available to guide people through the use of the interactive map. Developed through the collaboration of EPA; U.S. Geological Survey; U.S. Forest Service; other federal, state, and non-profit organizations; and several universities, this powerful web application lets users generate customized maps and images that show the condition of their local air, water and landscape; as well as population density and other demographic data. Not yet optimized for smartphone or tablet use, a mobile-friendly version is planned for the future.

Water and Business

Nature Climate Change, May 2014

The journal Nature Climate Change published a special issue containing a series of opinion papers on water challenges facing businesses from the risks associated with climate change, extreme weather and population growth. These four papers feature case studies and solutions available to businesses to effectively plan for a sustainable future. Peter Simpson discusses the need to integrate the expertise of water companies in local water management decision making. He presents a case study of strong investment in both infrastructure and business planning by a water company in a region heavily impacted by extreme weather. Water expert Arjen Hoekstrart analyzes the role of water in trade supply chains from a global perspective. She considers business participation in water stewardship and stresses the importance of the role of government, including oversight of water allocation and leadership in basin-level and international cooperation. Paul Kelly emphasizes the necessity of looking at adaptation measures that businesses can implement to ensure the sustainability of supply chains. Finally, in a case study drawn from India, Andy Wales recounts the story of making sustainable beer within a local supply chain in which the relationships between water, food, energy and local labor are seen as a nexus of resources. These articles in Nature Climate Change can be found at

Water Harvesting Assessment Toolbox

UA Water Resources Research Center,

The Desert Water Harvesting Initiative (DWHI), a program of the WRRC, recently released its new Water Harvesting Assessment Toolbox. This decision-support guide aims to help communities in the arid and semi-arid Southwest evaluate water harvesting as a strategy for meeting water resource challenges and providing multiple additional benefits, such as mitigating urban heat island effects, reducing energy costs and meeting stormwater quality regulations.

This prototype water harvesting decision guide was developed as part of a two-year research grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART program and the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative. The Toolbox includes a narrated video presentation orienting users to water harvesting, linked web resources with further information, and several worksheets designed to help users develop an appropriate roadmap for implementing water harvesting in their communities.

Atlas of the Upper Gila River Watershed

Katie Banister, David Chan, Jessica M. Driscoll, Christopher Fullerton, Aaron Lien and Kelly Mott Lacroix, UA Water Resources Research Center, January 2014

This Atlas contains a baseline assessment of conditions in the Upper Gila River watershed. It includes information on the history, cultural and natural resources of the watershed, and how some of those resources have changes over the past few decades. The range of information it provides includes basic geography of the region: geology, soils, towns and roads, to changes in watershed conditions: land use, forest fires, population and groundwater levels. Organized as a comprehensive reference for quick access to available information, the Atlas can also be used as a starting point for watershed planning, because it provides a common base of data for stakeholders in the Upper Gila River watershed. The Atlas was assembled using a database with 62 unique geospatial datasets ranging from soil erodibility to instream flow right applications. It includes more than 20 original maps, as well as the first Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment model for the Upper Gila River watershed. The Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment model can be used to determine the impacts of changing land use characteristics on water resources, and maps showing key model outputs can be found in the last section of the Atlas. The Atlas can be accessed at