As part of the Great Lakes Tributary Modeling Program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District has developed the Sediment Transport Analysis and Regional Training (START) program to help stakeholders across the Great Lakes better understand the watershed they live in.
The START program provides trainings to federal, state, and local government agencies as well as at multiple educational institutions, on how to use a combination of web-based water quality management tools and field investigations to complete reconnaissance level watershed assessments. The training is an opportunity for agencies to gain a better understanding of localized sedimentation, erosion, and non-point source pollution issues within their watershed.
“The START program has altered the way we do business,” said Brent LaSpada, START program manager. “The program has allowed us to connect directly with soil and water conservation districts, multiple colleges and students, Ohio and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, watershed planning groups, Farmers, Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, conservation groups, and Finger Lakes Planning Commission to name just a few.”
The information collected during the trainings, is being used to help reduce the loading of sediment and pollutants from watersheds to Great lakes tributaries, enhance Great Lakes water quality, delist Great Lakes areas of concerns, and reduce the sediment volumes for navigation dredging.
“These trainings are unique for many reasons,” said LaSpada. “We only need a computer lab with internet access to host a training, the team can travel anywhere in the Great Lakes basin, and it is 100% federally funded.”
The web-based sediment tolls that trainings cover are: Digital Watershed, High Impact Targeting, Long-Term Hydrologic Impact Assessment Low Impact Development, and Web-based Water Erosion Prediction Protection.
The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce the loading of sediment and pollutants to tributaries in order to enhance Great Lakes water quality, help delist Great Lakes AOC’s, and reduce the need for navigation dredging.
“By the end of the 2015 fiscal year, we will have conducted more than 30 trainings and 20 START assessments across the Great Lakes,” said LaSpada. “I would encourage anyone interested in taking part in a training, or hosting a training, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.”