Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have received a Technology Transfer Award for moving computer modeling technology for managing water resources out of the lab and into public and private use.
Agricultural engineers Jeffrey G. Arnold and Kevin W. King and agronomist James R. Kiniry developed the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) at the Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, Texas. SWAT is a computer-based evaluation tool that simulates climate and land management impact on water and pollutant loads from watersheds and river basins.
According to ARS, the US Environmental Protection Agency incorporated the model into their river basin model, and it is helping the agency save millions of dollars in time and labor that would have otherwise been required for measurements of soil and chemical movement into surface and groundwater.
EPA is using the model to set limits on sediment and chemical movement into the more than 20,000 rivers and lakes in the United States that do not meet EPA water quality guidelines.
In performing its assessment, the SWAT computer model takes into account factors such as hydrology, soil erosion, plant growth and cycling of nutrients, as well as off-site activities including channel erosion, reservoir deposition, groundwater flow and climate variability to show the impact of land management practices in large, complex watersheds.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of USDA.