WestFAST Special Topics Webinar Series

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WestFAST representatives collaborate among themselves to effectively and efficiently carry out their agencies’ water-related missions. In this role, WestFAST has begun a “Special Topics” Webinar Series to present, and allow discussion on, a range of WestFAST federal agency water-resource activities with the objective of improving awareness of and collaboration in water programs and our support of states programs.

Current Month and Future Scheduled Webinars


Past WestFAST Webinars

December 8, 2020:  Salinity in the Western United States

This WestFAST hosted webinar brought together salinity experts who shared their knowledge and experiences addressing salinity in the western United States.  For WestFAST’s PowerPoint click here.

November 18, 2020: The Bureau of Reclamation’s Transportation Program

This WestFAST hosted webinar provided participants with an overview of the program, including a sampling of partnerships and projects to date.


October 21, 2020: The Bureau of Reclamation’s Prize Competitions Program

In this WestFAST hosted webinar, participants heard more about the Prize Competitions Program, including an introduction Prize Competitions, an overview of the Program’s portfolio of activities, and a summary of the Program’s outcomes.  For the Bureau of Reclamation’s PowerPoint click here.

September 29, 2020:  Open ET (Forrest Melton, NASA)

The OpenET team presented an overview of the project goals and technical approach, highlighting early use cases and applications, provided a demonstration of the user interface, and hosted a discussion for general feedback and questions.

September 23, 2020:  Energy-Water-Emissions Dashboard (Julian Fulton, PhD, California State University, Sacramento, Department of Environmental Studies)

This WestFAST-hosted webinar briefed attendees on an interactive, web services-based website dashboard displaying information on nationwide power plant activity, including: up-to-date monthly electricity generation, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions; maps and charts of aggregated data at the facility, watershed (HUC-8), county, and state scales; projections to 2050; a demonstration of the dashboard, showing examples of data queries and available web services.

September 17, 2020:  The Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program

This WestFAST-hosted webinar briefed attendees on the multiple program components of WaterSMART, including their differences and the general timelines for funding opportunity announcements – when, how long, awards, etc.  A demonstration of the WaterSMART Data Visualization Tool was also provided; and plans for sharing recent WaterSMART accomplishments was discussed, along with new features of the program.  For the Bureau of Reclamation’s Water Resources and Planning Office’s PowerPoint click here.

August 25, 2020:  Update on the Western States Water Council Water Data Exchange (WaDE) 2.0

This WestFAST-hosted webinar updated attendees on the recent development of WaDE and demoed its new 2.0 system.  This demo showed examples of dashboard data queries to water rights and aggregate water use data for many states across the western United States.  The presentation highlighted coordination with the USGS Water-Use Data and Research Program and collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation on their water budget data management efforts in the Colorado River Basin.   For the WSWC’s PowerPoint click here.

July 29, 2020:  EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program (WIFIA) accelerates investment in our nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.  The WIFIA program was established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014.  This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided attendees with an overview of the WIFIA Program, including borrower spotlights, program accomplishments to date, and upcoming notices of funding availability.

July 15, 2020:  NRCS’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program – A look at a few Water Supply Projects involving Water Agencies in the West

This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided attendees with an overview of the NRCS’s RCPP, including a look at a few active RCPP water supply projects involving water agencies in the West.  For NRCS’s PowerPoint click here.

July 8, 2020:  The National Water Reuse Action Plan

This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided attendees (WSWC states and WestFAST member agencies) with an overview of the Plan – including strategic themes and key actions to be implemented across the water user community.

June 30, 2020: Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program, and the NRCS National Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN)

This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided attendees with an update on the Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting Program, as well as the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN), providing a better idea of what the programs are and where NRCS is heading.

June 24, 2020:  NASA Water Applications Office, and USGS National Land Imaging Program Updates

This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided attendees with an overview of the latest activities within NASA’s Water Applications Program, and within USGS’s NLI Program.  For NASA’s PowerPoint click here.  For USGS’s PowerPoint click here.


May 21, 2020: Natural Resources Conservation Service Program Updates

This WestFAST hosted webinar provided updates on the Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs and the 2018 Farm Bill.  Click here to view presentation slides

May 19, 2020: National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS); National Weather Center; and the National Water and Climate Center Program Updates

This WestFAST hosted webinar provided updates on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program and the National Water Center; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Water and Climate Center.

May 15, 2020: PFAS Background Action Plan

This PFAS Background Action Plan was shared with the Western States Water Council, and provides an overview of the Action Plan, with supporting materials. Click here to view presentation slides.

Announcement of Preliminary Regulatory Determinations for Contaminants on the Fourth Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List; Extension of Comment Period

PFAS Action Plan: Program Update February 2020

May 14, 2020:  USGS Water Mission Area Updates – Water Resources Availability and Water Observing Systems Portfolios

This WestFAST hosted webinar provided updates on the USGS’s Water Mission Area: Water Resources Availability and Water Observing Systems Portfolios.

May 12, 2020: 2019 ESA Section 4 Rule Revisions Overview

This WestFAST hosted webinar provided an overview of the 2019 revisions to regulations under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act. The presentation covered the changes to the regulations governing the process for listing/delisting species and designating critical habitat and the regulations pertaining to protections for threatened species (i.e., 4(d) rules).

April 29, 2020: Leveraging Watershed Management

This WestFAST-hosted webinar introduced attendees to: (1) the history of watershed and wildfire management in the Forest Service; (2) subsequent post-burn issues, including impacts to water supplies; and (3) provided examples of current approaches to engage with communities, water utilities, states, tribes, others to respond and improve the landscape, lower wildfire risk, and protect water supplies.  The briefing touched on the collaborative processes, new authorities, and mechanisms available across entities.

March 25, 2020, FAST-41: Your Tailored Roadmap for Infrastructure Project Permitting/The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council

This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided an overview of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law on December 4, 2015.  Title 41 of the FAST Act (FAST-41) (42 U.S.C. § 4370m) was designed to improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of the Federal environmental review and authorization process for covered infrastructure projects.  FAST-41 created a new entity – the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), composed of agency Deputy Secretary-level members and chaired by an Executive Director appointed by the President.  FAST-41 establishes new procedures that standardize inter-agency consultation and coordination practices.  FAST-41 codifies into law the use of the Permitting Dashboard to track project timelines, including actions that must be taken by federal agencies. Project sponsor participation in FAST-41 is voluntarily.

February 25, 2020: 3 New USGS Priority Programs – NGWOS, IWP, and IWA

The U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS) Water Resources Mission Area has established new interrelated strategic priorities to guide its work over the coming years to help the Nation address growing challenges to its water supply, infrastructure, and aquatic ecosystems. This WestFAST-hosted webinar introduced attendees to three new USGS Priority Programs: (1) Next Generation Water Observing System (NGWOS): Establishment of an integrated set of fixed and mobile assets – in the water, on the ground and in the air – that will collect and deliver data that can help address water resource challenges and decisionmaking needs of the future; (2) The Integrated Water Prediction (IWP) Program: Enhancement of existing tools and development of new capacity to produce model predictions supporting forecast-based management of water supplies and infrastructure; and (3) The Integrated Water Availability Assessments (IWAAs) Program: Integrated assessment of water availability in terms of the spatial and temporal distribution of water quantity and quality in both surface and groundwater, as related to human and ecosystem needs and as affected by human and natural influences.  The briefing includes an update on the recent selection of the “Headwaters of the Colorado/Gunnison River” Basins for future NGWOS implementation.

January 29, 2020: October 19, 2018, Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West

This WestFAST-hosted webinar provided an overview of the Presidential Memorandum, Action Plans developed by participating Federal Agencies in response to the Memorandum, current activities, and next steps.

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July 26, 2018 – U.S. Department of Agriculture – Economic Research Service: preliminary work on irrigation survey for water and irrigation districts

The introduction is missing from the recording –  here are the basic – Steven Wallander and Marcel Aillery of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) along with members of the WestFAST and WSWC on a new Survey of Irrigation Organizations under development by ERS and USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) with additional support from USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE).  The purpose of this project is to collect current information on irrigation water-supply management entities: irrigation districts (and other private entities) as well as groundwater management districts, as part of the USDA’s data development and research on drought resilience and farm-level irrigation decisions.   A national census or survey of irrigation organizations in forty years.  In that time, many aspects of local water management institutions have changed, including the number and size of irrigation organizations, the pricing structures used for cost recovery, the reliance on new sources of water quantity data, and an expanded emphasis on groundwater management.  The new survey of irrigation organizations will develop a dataset on district-scale characteristics and resource use, with special emphasis on water allocation institutions and conservation policies that impact farm-level drought response and resiliency.

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2017 Webinar #4 (November 16, 2017) – Getting to know the DOI-USGS Climate Science Centers

The first few seconds of the webinar was truncated for some reason, and didn’t catch all of the introduction for Robin O’Malley who is the Director of the North Central Climate Science Center in Fort Collins Colorado.  Robin is originally from the Northeastern United States and is finding the west a very interesting challenge.  This is where the recording picks up….


2017 Webinar #3 (October 10, 2017, 10am MDT) – “Getting to know your Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units”.


Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESUs) provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management, environmental, and research agencies and their partners. Their broad scope includes the biological, physical, social, cultural, and engineering disciplines needed to address natural and cultural resource management issues at multiple scales and in an ecosystem context. Overhead costs are limited to 17.5%, allowing more money to go toward science.
The multi-disciplinary structure of CESUs and their low over-head rate makes them well-suited to address federal agency needs for sustainability science.

2017 Webinar #2 (August 24, 2017, 10am, MDT) – EPA’s Water Innovation Fund


Water Innovation Fund

The Water Funder Initiative is (WFI) is a collaborative effort to identify and activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the U.S., starting in the West where the scarcity and reliability of clean water are urgent issues. The goal of the Water Innovation Fund (“the Fund”) is to accelerate the adoption of promising water innovations by small and mid-sized utilities (SMUs) that are likely to improve system cost structures, resilience and performance. To do this, the Fund will leverage a small portion of the existing cash-balances in the SRFs, alongside philanthropic capital to support early adoption of promising innovations by SMUs.

2017 Webinar #1 (June 22, 2017, 10am, MDT) – NASA Satellite Data and Hydrology Tools

Daniel Wood presented an update on the use of satellite data for water management, and the tools that NASA is developing to assist with hydrology modeling. For the presentation, click here. For a recording of the webinar, please click here.

2016 Webinar #7 (October 6, 2016, 9:30 am, MDT) – Federal water resource and resilience investment centers

WestFAST hosted a webinar with EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resilience Finance Center, the USDA’s Rural Opportunity Investment Initiative, and the Department of the Interior’s Natural Resource Investment Center (collectively, the Finance Centers).

This webinar was a follow up action from the WestFAST principals meeting held in March of this year in Washington, DC. We see this webinar as the first of many steps in developing a stronger working relationship with not only the Western States Water Council but also between each and every state.

The individual work and the collaboration of the Finance Centers plays a central role in the implementation of President Obama’s Drought Presidential Memorandum and the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) Action Plan. On the webinar, we will hear a little about what each Finance Center has underway individually, what they are planning to collaborate on, and how they would like to engage with the WSWC in the future. They also would like to hear from the WSWC members about how best they can engage with each of the states and the Council.

To access the presentation slides from this webinar, click here.

2016 Webinar #5 (6/28/2016, 9:30 AM Mountain) – Improving Sub-Seasonal and Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting

The Western States Water Council (WSWC) believes that the current accuracy of forecasts (generally referred to as forecast skill) for the sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) time frame is not adequate to support water management decision-making. S2S forecasts include environmental predictions with forecast ranges from 2 weeks to 12 months.

The WSWC has asked that the federal government prioritize additional resources to move forward with more research, observations, and operational weather modeling to provide necessary support for near-term improvement in S2S precipitation forecasting for water management. The WSWC, the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR), and NOAA have cosponsored a series of workshops to explore this issue and possible pathways toward improvement in S2S precipitation forecasting. On June 28th, WestFAST will be briefed on the results of these workshops and on progress on plans to support improved forecasting. WestFAST will review and discuss the potential benefits of efforts to improve S2S forecasting to their water resource and missions and programs.

Click here to view a fact sheet on this effort.

View NOAA presentation slides here.

View CDWR presentation slides here.

2016 Webinar #4 (5/13/2016 – repeat briefing) – The Importance of base flow in sustaining surface water flow in the Upper Colorado River Basin

USGS Research Hydrologist Matthew Miller provided a briefing on a recent study describing how scientists used a new method to more accurately estimate the percentage of groundwater in streamflow, finding that more than half of the streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater. A model has been developed to assess the spatial distribution of base flow, the fraction of streamflow supported by base flow, and estimates of and potential processes contributing to the amount of base flow that is lost during in-stream transport in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Study findings and resulting modeling tools can aid decision makers in effectively managing current and future water resources in the Colorado River Basin.

Click here to see presentation slides.

This webinar was recorded. To access the recording please please email Pat Lambert at patlambert@wswc.utah.gov.

The report – “The importance of base flow in sustaining surface water flow in the Upper Colorado River Basin” By Miller and other was recently published in the journal Water Resources Research – click here to access the report.

Links to press releases and news coverage of this study.

AGU Blog: http://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2016/05/09/half-streamflow-upper-colorado-river-basin-originates-groundwater/

NPR: http://kuer.org/post/study-colorado-river-flow-half-groundwater

2016 Webinar #3 (4/7/2016) – The Western State Water Council Water Data Exchange (WaDE)

On April 7th, at 2:00 (eastern), WestFAST will be briefed on progress in the development of the WSWC Water Date Exchange (WaDE). WaDE is a framework developed to allow various groups better ability to share state water data including information on water allocation, supply, and water demand data. WaDE is a cooperative effort between the WSWC, the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and WestFAST. Sara Larsen WSWC Water Data Exchange (WaDE) Program Manager and Dwane Young, EPA and WestFAST Water Data Work Group Chair will lead the briefing. We will also discuss WestFAST Water Data Work Group plans to assess and report on WaDE’s future relevance and utility to WestFAST agency water information needs.

2016 Webinar #2 (2/25/2016) – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agency Overview and the Relevance of Water to the Agency’s Mission 

Andrew Hautzinger (WestFAST) and Mike Higgins of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will brief WestFAST on agency structure and priority water-resource related issues including (1) Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation, (2) Ecological Services/Endangered Species,  (3) Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program, and (4) the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Click here to view presentation slides.

2016 Webinar #1 (1/28/2016) – Update on the National Drought Resilience Partnership, next steps, and WestFAST roles

The interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) was established in 2013 as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy. WestFAST was briefed on the progress and products of the NDRP including the activities of the Upper Missouri River Basin: Building Drought Early Warning Capability in Montana demonstration project. The Upper Missouri River Basin Project, sponsored by NIDIS, the National Drought Mitigation Center, Environmental Protection Agency and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, is a demonstration of how preparedness can be improved when federal agencies go “all in” to develop a long-term drought strategy. We will also discuss NDRP next steps as defined in recent White House Drought symposia and potential WestFAST roles in the facilitating implementation of those steps. The briefing was led by Roger Gorke (EPA, WestFAST Chair) and Tina Laidlaw (EPA, Region 8) representatives from the Upper Missouri Basin Project.

Click here to see the Montana demonstration project work plan. Click here to view a copy of the presentation.

2015  Webinar #10 (10/29/2015) – U.S. Forest Service Water Resource Roles and the USFS NorWest Stream Temperature Program

Mike Eberle, USDA Forest Service Surface Water Program leader, reviewed priority water resource issues and program in the Forest Service and Daniel Isaak, USFS Research Fish Biologist presented on the activities and products of the USFS NorWest stream-temperature database and modeling program. The NorWest Program provides stream temperature data and geospatial map outputs from a regional temperature model for the Northwest U.S. The temperature database was compiled from hundreds of biologists and hydrologists working for dozens of resource agencies and contains more than 50,000,000 hourly temperature recordings at more than 20,000 unique stream sites. These temperature data are being used with spatial statistical stream network models to develop an accurate and consistent set of climate scenarios for all streams.

A recording of the Webinar can be reviewed here. You can also download the recorded webinar.

2015 Webinar #9 (9/24/2015) – USGS – Water Programs and the National Water Census

WestFAST members and webinar participants reviewed selected USGS Water Resources Programs with focus on the National Water Census .  Pixie Hamiliton, USGS Cooperative Water Program National Coordinator  and Sonja Jones, USGS Water Census Programs, led the discussion which included an overview of the USGS Water Availability and Science Program. Click here to find webinar presentation materials.

2015 Webinar #8 (8/20/2015) – NASA – Watching Water in the West:
An Overview of NASA Missions and Applied Science for Water Resources Management

Dr. Bradley Doorn and Forrest Melton from the NASA Applied Sciences program provided an overview of NASA satellite and airborne missions relevant to water resources monitoring and management in the western US. They also presented highlights from NASA’s portfolio of applied science activities that are focused on applying NASA’s remote sensing capabilities to support advances in water resources management. Click here to view presentation slides.

2015 Webinar #7 (7/29/2015) – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation collaborations in “Challenge & Prize Competition” programs for priority water resource solutions

Challenge and prize competitions are one path that federal agencies are taking to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems. More than 425 challenges have been run in the Federal government since 2010.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is participating, in collaboration with other WestFAST agencies, in several water-resource challenge and prize competitions including solutions in brackish water desalination, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and water availability. Chuck Hennig, Deputy Chief of the Research and Development Office, Denver Colorado, will lead a presentation and discussion on Reclamation’s involvement in challenge and prize competitions toward helping solve critical water and water-related resource problems facing our Nation.

Find presentation materials here.

Here are some additional links on the our webinar topic –
Bloomberg News Video about the Desal Prize Competition
GSA Video (the agency that provides us with Challenge.gov) Overview of 4 Years of Prize Competitions on Challenge.gov
Our Water Prize Competition Center crowd sourcing pavilion:
Our Water Prize Competition webpage:

Challenges Celebrates 4 Years – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YryUplWQDR0&authuser=0 

2015 Webinar #6 (6/25/2015) – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Upper Colorado Region, Reclamation Water Operations: How does it all work?

Malcolm Wilson, Chief of the Water Resources Group for Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Region will brief WestFAST on operations of the Upper Colorado Basin system and how Reclamation engages with state and local water users and other federal agencies in their water delivery. Malcolm’s Presentation (.pdf) ~2MB

2015 Webinar #5 (5/21/2015) – Western State Water Resources: Planning, Policy and Appropriation

Tony Willardson, Executive Director of the Western States Water Council presented WestFAST member and others with an overview of water allocation approaches and policies in western states. The Webinar was co-sponsored with WestFAST by the Western Regional Partnership’s Natural Resources Committee. The  WRP provides a proactive and collaborative framework for senior-policy level Federal, State and Tribal leadership to identify common goals and emerging issues in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah and to develop solutions that support WRP Partners and protect natural resources, while promoting sustainability, homeland security and military readiness.

Mr. Willardson presented

  • An overview of the WSWC mission
  • Information on the varying approaches to water right allocation in western states (with focus on the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah) and western states’ concepts of water supply and availability

You can view the presentation at this link.

2015 Webinar #4 (4/30/2015) – Selected Federal activities on hydraulic fracturing

briefing on three water-resource assessment areas on unconventional oil and gas development activities:

  • EPA study of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources: Jeanne Briskin (briskin.jeanne@epa.gov), Hydraulic Fracturing Research Coordinator, EPA Office of Research and Development (Click to view presentation)
  • Trends in water quality in areas of unconventional oil and gas development – Watershed/surface-water resources, Zach Bowen (bowenz@usgs.gov) Ecosystem Dynamics Branch, USGS Fort Collins Science Center (Click to view presentation)
  • Injection induced earthquakes, Bill Ellsworth (ellsworth@usgs.gov), USGS Earthquake Science Center Staff Director (Click to view presentation)

Links to discussed publications and products

EPA’s Homepage for the study of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources

Gallegos, T.J., and Varela, B.A., 2015, Trends in hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010—Data analysis and comparison to the literature: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5131, 15 p.,

Gallegos, T.J., and Varela, B.A., 2015, Data regarding hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 868, 11 p

W. L. Ellsworth, Injection Induced Earthquakes, Science 341, 1225942 (2013).
DOI: 10.1126/science.1225942

2015 Webinar #3 (3/26/2015) – Open Water Data

Briefing on activities of the ACWI Subcommittee on Spatial Water Data (SSWD) and the Drought Use Case Work Group. Al Rea, USGS/SSWD and Angela Adams, Reclamation Lower Colorado, Special Assistant to the Regional Director presented. (Links to SSWD presentation)

2015 Webinar #2 (2/26/2015) –  NRCS Snow Survey, Water Supply Program, and the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN)

Mike Strobel (WestFAST), Director of NRCS’s National Water and Climate Center in Portland, Oregon will be our presented. (Link to webinar presentation)

2015 Webinar #1 (1/29/2015) – NIDIS – The Next Generation

Roger Pulwarty (WestFAST), Director, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and Kevin Werner (WestFAST), NOAA National Climate Data Center Western Regional Climate Services Director presented NIDIS accomplishments and future directions. (Link to webinar presentation)[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]