Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014MI229B

Improving Capacity to Collect Crowdsourced Hydrologic Data through Focused Engagement and Enhanced CrowdHydrology Software

Institute: Michigan
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $5,350

Principal Investigators: Jeremiah Asher

Abstract: Problem: There is increasing public concern in Michigan over water use, specifically with regards to increased high-volume hydraulic fracturing operations and agricultural irrigation expansion. The 2012 drought shed light on rising tensions as small wells ran dry and local creeks dried up. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality implements the state's Water Use Program to regulate large quantity withdrawals and prevent adverse resource impacts to waters of the state. There has been a substantial increase in the number of large quantity withdrawals in the last year and a small number of watersheds are nearing the point at which an adverse resource impact will occur if more withdrawals are approved. The department is strapped to provide additional resources towards efforts such as monitoring. This presents a dilemma for water users as their ability to drill new wells or increase water use becomes more limited. These challenges pose a great opportunity to crowdsource hydrologic data using the CrowdHydrology project, which collects stream stage measurements via text messaging. Crowdsourcing can engage and inform concerned citizens and is an affordable approach for data collection. This information may provide supplemental data to water users committees and local and state agencies. Methods: Three watersheds will be selected across Michigan to install additional CrowdHydrology stations. Watershed or conservation organizations within selected watersheds will be asked to participate in the Michigan CrowdHydrology network by installing and maintaining CrowdHydrology stations. A CrowdHydrology users workshop will be conducted to bring the public and scientists together to discuss the value and use of hydrologic crowdsourced data. Enhancements to the CrowdHydrology software and mapping environment will be explored and developed to increase the ease with which data are collected and viewed by citizen scientists. Objectives: Expand CrowdHydrology monitoring network in Michigan. Increase public awareness about Michigan's water resources and management as additional sites are installed and citizen scientists participate in a CrowdHydrology users workshop with researchers, natural resource managers and policy makers. Enhance CrowdHydrology code and user experience to increase participation.