Improving Water Quality Through Modeling Tools

The River Authority
Jan 12, 2021

As part of the San Antonio River Authority’s (River Authority) mission of being committed to safe, clean, enjoyable creeks and rivers, the staff at the River Authority are experts in understanding and caring for the San Antonio River as well as its tributaries. The River Authority regularly conducts water quality monitoring and performs biological and habitat assessments throughout the San Antonio River Basin to keep tabs on the condition of this important ecoregion. The work done by our staff has also received several national recognitions for the innovative use of software modeling tools that help improve the health of area creeks and rivers.

Learn more about these modeling tools and how the work of our talented staff was recognized by the Water Environment Federation!

Water Quality Modeling

Stormwater going down a street drain

The untreated rainwater that goes into storm drains and directly to area creeks and rivers is known as stormwater runoff. Data from River Authority water quality monitoring indicates that pollutants carried by stormwater runoff are the greatest threat to river health.

Sheeba Thomas, Ph.D., Senior Technical Engineer in the River Authority’s Ecological Engineering Department, oversaw the creation of modeling tools to provide quantitative water quality master planning. These tools help to better understand the conditions of the basin in order to determine the pollution load from a land area that can potentially drain into the creek and river systems. Some of the functions of these modeling tools include measuring how much pollution can be reduced in a given area and the number of stormwater management structures needed to limit increased loads of pollutants.

National Recognition

River Authority's Senior Technical Engineer Sheeba Thomas featured in the Jan 2021 issue of Municipal Sewer and Water Magazine.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) selected the River Authority, civil engineering firm Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc. (LAN), and integrated solutions partner RESPEC as the recipients of the 2020 Project Excellence Award. WEF's annual Project Excellence Award pays tribute to excellence and innovation in the execution of projects and programs in the water sector.

The River Authority and partners were recognized for helping address the lack of suitable tools to conduct quantitative assessment to effectively implement Best Management Practices and low impact development strategies to address urban stormwater runoff pollution. Following the award announcement, the work has also been recognized by the industry and has been highlighted in trade publications like Municipal Sewer & Water Magazine.

The River Authority is proud of the work accomplished by Dr. Thomas and our Ecological Engineering team in collaboration with our project partners. Their important work is helping to advance our vision of inspiring actions for healthy creeks and rivers! Learn more about water quality by visiting our website and find out how you can help us in our efforts!