Major Accomplishments

Inclusion of Wetbud in COE – ERDC Technical Note on Water Budget Models for Wetlands

Wetbud, a computer program developed for predicting water budgets in wetland systems, is the result of RPG’s largest research program effort and incorporates the results of several related research topics we have funded. It is featured in the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Wetlands Regulatory Assistance Program Technical Note (ERDC/TN WRAP-20-1; published September 2020). Having Wetbud described in comparison to major models (like HEC 1, HEC-HMS, HEC-RAS, TR-20, TR-55, DRAINMOD, HSPF, ModFlow, GSSHA) and very favorably reviewed therein is a major achievement.

This has been our most substantial research investment area to date because the primary reason commonly cited by regulators and scientific reports for the failure of compensatory wetlands mitigation projects to meet regulatory release requirements has been their failure to achieve the timing, depth and duration of water necessary to support the desired wetlands type. The primary goal of this research effort was to develop a PC-driven water budget model applicable to the design of sloped wetlands systems as well as depressional basin systems, groundwater driven and surface water driven wetlands. The model also calculates PET, provides a statistically based system for selecting appropriate rainfall data for use in the model, and easily allows users to compare the resulting hydroperiod to reference data or BPJ derived hydroperiod design goals. We are now focusing on expanding its availability to the wetlands community.

Adoption of Stem Area at Ground (SAG) by COE Norfolk District and DEQ as a Metric for Determining Forested Wetlands Success

Our Sustainable Created Forested Wetlands research effort focused on the determination of the best metric to measure the ecological success of forested wetlands restoration vs. the current combination of steam density and height. A key conclusion was that ecological success was best correlated with biomass accumulation and that a practical way to measure this keystone metric was by assessing the stem area at ground (SAG).

This new metric for forested vegetation success has been accepted by the Norfolk District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and is now included in their 2018 MBI Template. A follow-up research award is using the data from this program to help develop a protocol for the most effective selection of species, stocktypes, and densities to meet the recommended success criteria.

Education Support

A large portion of our grants support both undergraduate and graduate students. Many of the projects use undergraduates for help in a lab or field technical support role, providing both needed income and hands-on research experience, as well as in direct research.

Our larger research awards to Universities support significant numbers of graduate students leading to Masters and Doctoral degrees. RPG has fully or partially assisted the following graduate students in the receipt of their degrees: