Avista and Water Resources Program Announce Annual Scholarship Winners

Thursday, January 30 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho Environmental Science & Water Resources Program is proud to announce the recipients of the 2014 Avista-Waters of the West Scholarship.

Knut Marius Myrvold, a doctoral student, and Abigail Lute, a master’s degree student, will each be awarded $2,500 from Avista in support of their research. Avista contributes $5,000 each academic year to fund a scholarship for one or more graduate student in the water resources program whose research impacts areas served by the energy company.

“We are a hydro-based utility so we rely on water for about half of our power generation,” said Paul Kimmell, Palouse-area regional business manager for Avista. “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.”

Myrvold is researching how water demands in small streams of the Lapwai basin affect the Clearwater population of Snake River steelhead. By studying thousands of tagged and recaptured fish across 16 sites, he will determine how factors such as temperature, densities and water withdrawals impact conditions for juvenile steelhead.

“His work will bear relevance to our general understanding of freshwater salmon in hydrologically-altered watersheds,” said Brian Kennedy, Myrvold’s major professor in the department of fish and wildlife sciences at Idaho.

Lute is currently researching heavy snowfall events in montane environments across the western United States as they pertain to variability of snowpack storage. This is a particularly relevant topic in a region that relies heavily on hydropower and of great interest to hydropower companies like Avista who need to estimate water availability.

Lute’s research also has implications for operational water supply projections in a changing climate, said John Abatzoglou, Lute’s major professor in the geography department at Idaho.

“In the coming decades the western U.S. is projected to experience higher temperatures, decreased snowpack, earlier snowmelt, and possibly more extreme precipitation, leading to lower summer flows, insufficient reservoir capacity, and higher summer power demand,” he said. “She is modeling changes for extreme snowfall events and the rain-snow transition as this information is critical for helping hydropower operations adapt to a changing climate.”

The water resources graduate program was created in 2007 to train professionals who can address the complex nature of contemporary water issues. The program’s interdisciplinary approach is designed to reflect the intertwined socio-economic, legal, scientific and engineering considerations that inform water resource management.

“We see long-term value in the Water Resources Program as it effectively uses the capacity of the regional flagship research institution 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,” said Kimmell.

For more information, contact the Environmental Science & Water Resources Program at (208) 885-6113 or water@uidaho.edu.

About Avista

Avista is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. It provides electric service to 358,000 customers and natural gas to 317,000 customers in a service territory that covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.5 million. For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistautilities.com.

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps 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. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.