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Great Lakes Tributary Modeling Workshop

Thursday, September 29th, 2011
9:00AM – 5:00PM

This is the final workshop of the 2-year USACE funded and sponsored Great Lakes Tributary Modeling study of the Cattaraugus / Clear Creek Watershed. The workshop teaching and hands-on exercises are geared to build and test BMP scenarios to reduce runoff and erosion potential.


145 Wilkeson Quad
University at Buffalo, North Campus
Click HERE or the image below for map/directions


Passes will be handed out on arrival – please call the lab @ 716-645-0496 and we will bring one to you
Please park in the Spaulding Lot (adjacent to the pond)


Workshop Overview

This workshop summarizes two years of educational outreach and modeling efforts conducted by members of the Landscape-Based Environmental Systems Analysis and Modeling (LESAM) Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Chris Renschler (principle investigator) and Graham S. Hayes (research scientist).  These efforts have been supported and funded by the Buffalo District of the US Army Corps of Engineers under the project oversight of Bryan A. Hinterberger.  Our team, composed of Martin Minkowski (PhD candidate), Ryan Mendieta (MS graduate student), and Zhihao Wang (MS graduate student), has worked tirelessly to conduct a successful study and final workshop.

Our Year-One project involved establishing calibrated and verifiable baseline models within the Cattaraugus Creek and Clear Creek watersheds to model daily hillslope processes that contribute to runoff, erosion, sedimentation and flooding using a combination of ArcSWAT, WEPP, GeoWEPP and HEC-GeoRAS models.  These models were run against larger scale coarser DEMs, landuse and soils data to simulate processes at the watershed and channel level of detail.

As part of our efforts to become familiar with the landscape processes at work within the watersheds we conducted several field trips with stakeholders to better understand their issues of concern related to watershed management.  These field trips augmented several meetings and workshops for all parties to share insights and gain technical skills to foster better decision making.

In Year-Two, our efforts have been focused on researching possible Best Management Practices (BMPs) which could be simulated within the constraints of the modeling software at our disposal as well as within the scale limitations of the available datasets.

We held several workshops and meetings with stakeholders to further refine our understanding of the types of BMPs that would be reasonable to expect adoption within the farming and construction communities within the Clear Creek watershed.  A range of accepted BMPs were selected through the combined efforts of John Whitney (USDA/NRSC) and members of the Seneca Nation of Indians (special thanks to Mike Gates and Lisa Maybee for their involvement and cooperation).

The target BMPs included:

  • Cover crops
  • Crop rotation
  • Silage residue
  • Conservation tillage
  • Riparian buffer strips


Because of the level of detail required to model the selected BMPs, our modeling efforts shifted during Year-2 from the larger watersheds and channels, to smaller sub-watersheds to model farm fields at the hillslope level.

Attendees at this workshop should come away with a higher level of understanding about the modeling software data requirements and parameter settings to be applied to simulate the selected BMPs.  Running the models will help confirm the feasibility of encouraging farmers (whether they own or lease the land) to adopt beneficial Best Management Practices to reduce erosion.

Stakeholders are encouraged to take a laptop preloaded with data and software back to their offices to continue their learning experience.  While our project funding officially ends Sept. 30, we will continue to invest our time with the stakeholder community to encourage better (or best) watershed management practices.




Workshop Discussion Topic Time
Coffee, Juice and Muffins  8:30
Introduction to Baseline Models and Case Studies  9:00
Overview of BMPs by Scale  9:15
Large-Scale Watershed Models (ArcSWAT – Cattaraugus Creek & Clear Creek)  9:45
Running an ArcSWAT Simulation (instructor led demo)  10:00
Modifying ArcSWAT Parameters (instructor led demo)  10:15
Conservation Tillage (instructor led demo & group exercise)  10:30
Break  10:45
Small-Scale Hillslope BMPs (WEPP – selected Clear Creek agricultural field sites)  11:00
Running a WEPP Simulation (instructor led demo)  11:15
Modifying WEPP Parameters (instructor led demo)  11:30
Creating BMPs in WEPP (instructor led demo & group exercise)  11:45
“What If” Scenarios (instructor led demo & group exercise)  12:00
Lunch  12:15
Medium-Scale Watershed BMP Models (GeoWEPP – selected Clear Creek watershed)  12:45
Running a GeoWEPP Simulation (instructor led demo)  1:00
GeoWEPP Results (instructor led demo)  1:30
Incorporating BMPs into GeoWEPP (instructor led demo & group exercise)  1:45
Break  2:00
Modeling Flood Levels from BMP Model Results (HEC-GeoRAS)  2:15
Reviewing model parameters (instructor led demo)  2:30
Adjusting model inputs (instructor led demo)  2:45
Reviewing model outputs (instructor led demo)  3:00
Break  3:15
Instructor Assisted Self-Paced Experimentation  3:30
Wrap up & Closing Comments  5:00

Course Materials

Sample Data (forthcoming)
Slideshow Presentations:

Photo for exif viewer
LESAM’s Photo Album – Clear Creek / Seneca Nation of Indians




Graham Hayes: (716) 597-8100 –
Chris Renschler: (716) 645-0480 –
Ryan Mendieta (webmaster):
LESAM Lab: (716) 645-0496