Avista and Water Resources Program Announce Annual Scholarship Winners

Thursday, February 21 2013

Written by Alecia Hoene

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho Environmental Science and Water Resources Program is proud to announce the recipients of the 2013 Avista-Waters of the West Scholarship.

Ricardo Sánchez-Murillo, a doctoral student working with Jan Boll and Erin Brooks of the biological and agricultural engineering department will be awarded $3,000. He is researching the effects of human and natural influences on base flow dynamics. Base flow refers to the standard level of a river maintained solely through groundwater seepage, with no inputs from precipitation and surface runoff. Sánchez-Murillo is studying base flow in 26 watersheds in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. This research will be valuable in determining future availability of water for hydropower generation, irrigation, habitat and aquatic biota, and as drinking water.

“Base flow is one of the most important components of the stream flow regime of any river or creek since it provides continuous habitat to aquatic biota; regulates water temperature and dissolved oxygen during summer; and functions as an essential supply for drinking water and irrigation in most temperate regions,” said Sánchez-Murillo.

“By knowing base flow characteristics, stakeholders and environmental agencies could prioritize efforts and resources in areas where potential future droughts may drastically affect ecological assemblages and socio-economic activities.”

Jon Treasure, a master’s student also working with Brooks, will be awarded $2,000. Treasure’s research aims to improve late summer juvenile steelhead rearing habitat in the Potlatch River Basin through reservoir management. This has included investigating the use of Big Meadow Creek Reservoir to augment the west fork of Little Bear Creek during late summer.

“I grew up next to a creek, and as I've learned through experience, many creeks and their inhabitants in our nation are in jeopardy,” said Treasure. “My goal is to continue to raise awareness of this reality and suggest alternative solutions to maintain water quality and ecological integrity.”

In 2010, Avista pledged to contribute $5,000 each academic year to fund a scholarship for one or more full-time graduate students in the Water Resources Program whose research impacts areas served by the energy company.

“We are very pleased with the support for Waters of the West students by Avista,” said Boll, director of the environmental science and water resources program at Idaho.

“Our program’s goals are to connect science with policy and economic development, and our students are doing an amazing job making that connection. The recognition of the WoW program’s value in the region is inspiring us to keep attracting great students.”

Paul Kimmel, Palouse-area regional business manager for Avista, sees value in fostering student research in water science.

“We are a hydro-based utility so we rely on water for about half of our power generation,” said Kimmell.

“Because of that reliance, Avista’s legacy of environmental stewardship, commitment to social responsibility and sound management of our watersheds are essential parts of our role as a community partner. We see long-term value in the WoW program, as it effectively uses the capacity of the regional flagship research institution, providing the opportunity for students to do work that is truly relevant in helping to manage and solve issues around water and the essential role it plays in our world.”

For more information, contact the Environmental Science and Water Resources Program at (208) 885-6113, envs@uidaho.edu or water@uidaho.edu.
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The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.