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Winter 2018 Newsletter

Thanks for viewing this first version of the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center Newsletter. I use this format a few times a year to highlight U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) activities and water-related science going on at the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center (OKI WSC). 


OKI Winter 2018 Newsletter (Click link to download newsletter PDF)

Message from the Director

As Director for the USGS OKI WSC, I am committed, along with the rest of the staff, to help provide the hydrologic information and understanding needed for the optimum use and management of water resources in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The USGS is unique among Government organizations because we have neither regulatory nor developmental authority--our sole product is impartial, credible, relevant, and timely information, equally accessible and available to all interested parties.

The USGS OKI WSC has about 165 employees providing the information used in the management, assessment, and vulnerability analyses of water supply, water quality, flood hazard, drought, and watershed issues associated with the rich water resources of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. We have a diverse source of funding with over 150 partners. About 40 percent of our funding is from federal sources and the other 60 percent is from state and local agencies.

In October of 2017, the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana offices were combined into one "Merged Center". All of the offices work together closely, under one Director, with a Deputy Director in each state office that reports to the Director. Our scientists and support staff in each state report to the Deputy Director. The combining of the three state centers will allow us to gain operational efficiencies and make more funding available for science. The merger will enhance the quality of USGS science by bringing more scientists and equipment to bear on all water-related issues. It will energize USGS scientists and technicians in all offices by providing greater scientific opportunities, more collaboration, and more state-of-the-art equipment, and it will strengthen our relationships with cooperators by enhancing the quality and providing value-added science. Center mergers are one strategy to address potential big swings in the federal budget and deal with the concept of “shrinking in place” by leveraging the Center’s increased capabilities and skill sets to build larger-scale science programs. Large-scale science programs open up opportunities for more responsibility and ownership for all staff, as well as increased avenues for collaboration with colleagues and partners. These mergers are created to keep the USGS resilient and to ensure we are able to continue to do exceptional science.

The OKI WSC has offices located in Columbus and New Philadelphia, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Louisville, Murray, and Williamsburg, Kentucky.

We hope that you find the information in our newsletter and on our web page helpful, interesting, and informative. Please visit our web page at


Green Infrastructure in Gary , IN

City Hall in Gary, Indiana

In collaboration with the City of Gary and the U.S. EPA, the USGS is monitoring the effects of installed storm water reduction strategies and infrastructure on the hydrology of the highly permeable surficial aquifer material and storm sewer flows. The City of Gary and the Gary Sanitary District are committed to implementing green infrastructure solutions to reduce storm water inputs to their combined sewer system, with the goal of decreasing the volume of storm water to be treated. The City of Gary has installed structures to redirect storm water from the sewer system during a planned rehabilitation of the parking lot just south of Gary City Hall (photo to the right). The work included the removal of impervious cover and redirection of storm water from the existing parking lot to a centralized rain garden within the parking lot and two nearby swales. Plans include a plaza lined with permeable pavers and two additional rain garden structures that will be included near the City Hall parking lot.

The USGS Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science

Center has maintained a hydrologic monitoring network within Gary and the surrounding Lake County area for about 30 years. The network includes discrete site measurements of both surface- and groundwater levels in the Grand Calumet River and Calumet aquifer respectively. These measurements can be used as a long-term background dataset to compare with newly collected data in areas surrounding green infrastructure projects to help quantify the change associated with the installations.


City Hall at Gary Indiana after infrastructure improvements

The downtown area surrounding the city hall is currently undergoing redevelopment: some nearby abandoned properties have been removed, and discussions on other properties within the downtown governmental and entertainment districts are earmarked for redevelopment that includes green infrastructure designs. The USGS has installed and is monitoring and analyzing hydrologic data from targeted networks of observation wells, soil moisture sites, storm sewers and a weather station to understand the effect of the installed rain garden and other green infrastructure installations on the water budget local to the City Hall study site (photo to the left). Conditions were monitored prior to the construction of the green infrastructure to fully understand the water budget. Soil moisture and groundwater levels will be monitored in nearby parkland areas with no land use change for the length of the project to use for comparison purposes (control site). Observed conditions during the pre-construction phase and those made following the installation of Green Infrastructure will be used to calibrate an urban runoff modeling software package that simulates the runoff from the site to the storm sewer system. The simulations will be evaluated to identify which model parameters are most sensitive to the output, and how the volumes of water simulated by the model to enter the storm sewer system compare to the volumes measured by installed equipment. This project is one of three ongoing studies in the Great Lakes Basin. For more information about these studies and the USGS urban stormwater research group, contact Dave Lampe at

Ice Jam Awareness

Ice jam on a waterway in Ohio

The U.S. Geological Survey operates and maintains river gages throughout the United States. Within the northern states, these rivers often freeze solid, however that does not stop the USGS from making flow measurements under ice covered conditions, called ice measurements. This winter, the OKI WSC has made over 20 ice measurements. These ice measurements are important to make as ice cover in the stream tends to give a higher stage for a given flow than if the stream was not ice covered. An important piece of information while making an ice measurement is the ice thickness.

This winter, ice thicknesses were relayed to the National Weather Service offices in Wilmington and Cleveland, Ohio so they could produce more accurate river forecasts. As ice melts and breaks up, it has the potential to flood towns and communities.

Making an ice measurement on a frozen stream

This past fall, as part of the Silver Jackets Team, Thomas Harris from the U. S. Geological Survey, along with Sarah Jamison from National Weather Service Cleveland and Joseph Rocks gave Ice Jam Awareness presentations to two communities in the Cleveland area and one community in Toledo. Mr. Harris presented what it takes to form ice on streams and presented a case study of ice formation on the Conneaut River near Conneaut, Ohio. Ms. Jamison outlined the efforts of the National Weather Service in trying to predict river stage on an ice covered stream and Mr. Rocks is trying to develop a database of ice jams for case studies, also an

effort to aid National Weather Service prediction of ice covered streams. During the winter of 2018, ice jams affected the communities of Zanesville, Painesville, Milan, and Vermilion, Ohio.





The U.S. Geological Survey’s Ohio Water Microbiology Laboratory

Petri dish sample

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Ohio Water Microbiology Laboratory (OWML), located in Columbus, Ohio, provides microbiological data of public-health significance from surface water, groundwater, and sediments across the Nation using traditional and cutting-edge analytical approaches.

The OWML is a dual-function laboratory: it supports internal research projects (since 1987) and offers analytical services to support USGS National Programs and other USGS Water Science Centers (since 1999). The laboratory specializes in the detection of microbiological indicators and pathogens and studies the processes that affect their occurrence and distribution in the environment. The OWML works with other government agencies, academic institutions, and public utilities on topics including harmful algal blooms, predictive modeling for recreational and source water quality, rapid microbial detection methods, microbial source tracking, biosecurity and biological warfare, and antibiotic resistance in the environment.

Ohio WSC Microbiology Laboaratory

Analytical capabilities offered by the OWML include culture methods for the enumeration of indicator bacteria including total coliforms, fecal coliforms, E. coli, and enterococci. Culture methods for the enumeration of aerobic endospores are used to analyze groundwater under the influence of surface water. A double-agar layer method is used for the detection of Actinomycetes,which produces compounds that cause taste and odor issues in water.

Presence/absence and quantitative methods are used for the analysis of F-specific and somatic coliphage, as viral indicators. Molecular methods, such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), are used for the detection of DNA and RNA from bacterial indicators and pathogens, enteric viruses, cyanobacteria, microbial source tracking markers, and antibiotic resistance genes.


Staff processing a sample in the Microbiology laboratory

The OWML is committed to providing quality microbiology analytical services to the USGS and its cooperators. The OWML is a Biological Safety Level 2 Laboratory that operates with an extensive temperature and power monitoring system. A Quality Assurance Manual, documented Standard Operating Procedures, and a Laboratory Information Management System ensure the production of

scientific data of known and documented quality.







Keith Banachowski Deputy Director for Ohio


Keith Banachowski is currently the Deputy Director for Ohio. He grew up in Toledo and moved to Columbus to go to The Ohio State University. He earned a BS and MS in Civil Engineering, and is a registered professional engineer. He worked forthe Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water, in the Dam Safety Program for 20 years. Working for the Dam Safety Program included a wide variety of types of work: inspecting hundreds of dams, permitting and monitoring construction of new dams, performing hydraulic/hydrologic analyses, working with attorneys for legal enforcement, designing databases, and working with USDHS to write the Dam Sector Plan (response to 9-11).  Keith specialized in hydraulics and risk assessment, and managed all or a portion of the program for about 10 years.  He also taught open channel hydraulics at OSU.  

Keith has been with US Geological Survey for a little over two years. In the fall of 2017, Keith became Deputy Director for Ohio in the newly merged Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center. Keith is married (Jessica) and they have an eight-year-old daughter (Lydia) and six-year-old son (Wesley). “I stay busy with family and my church group, and enjoy the outdoors and roller hockey, although I do not get to play as much as I used to.”



Kentucky WSC Deputy Director Peter Cinotto and spouse

Pete Cinotto is currently the Deputy Director for Kentucky. He grew up in Colorado and has a life-long love of earth science and the outdoors; free time as a child was usually spent in the Rocky Mountains prospecting and hiking. In 1990, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Northern Colorado where he was honored to be named the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, Outstanding Student of the Year in 1989.

 Kentucky WSC Deputy Director Pete Cinotto and family

While in school, Pete remained active in the sciences, volunteered with the Denver Museum of Natural History at “Dinosaur Ridge” near Morison, Colorado, and worked as a survey assistant for Northern Geophysical of America in Nevada and on the Western Slope of Colorado. Upon graduation, and like many geologists during that period, he then went through a corporate training program and worked briefly in the petroleum industry as a wireline engineer for Halliburton Logging Services. In 1992, Pete came to work with the US Geological Survey (USGS) as a physical science technician at the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) in Arvada, Colorado; working for the USGS was a dream job for a young geologist in Colorado! After 3 years at the NWQL, he relocated to the USGS Georgia Water Science Center. After a short stint, he transferred to the USGS Pennsylvania Water Science Center where he worked as a hydrologist / project chief until 2007. During this period, Pete was responsible for a wide range of studies – including microbiology, surface water, groundwater, fluvial geomorphology, bridge scour, and more. Given this experience, he was well qualified to become a supervisory hydrologist / studies chief and relocated to the USGS Kentucky Water Science Center in 2007 to assume that role. Pete worked as the Kentucky studies chief until 2014 when he was selected to become the Deputy Director for Kentucky in the newly merged, Indiana-Kentucky Water Science Center. Through all of this time, “I have been very fortunate to have worked with a great team and benefited from many incredible mentors”; so, as we move into 2018 as the new “Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center, I am very excited by the many possibilities and opportunities that await us!”


Jeff Frey Deputy Director for Indiana Water Science Center

Jeff Frey is currently the Deputy Director for Indiana. He is originally from the Great White North (Minnesota) but came to Indiana

University to get his Masters in Science from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs where he graduated in 1992. He started with the USGS after graduation working on the White River study under Charlie Crawford as part of the National Water Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) and is legally considered a Hoosier now. He became the Project Chief for the combined White River-Great and Little Miami River study unit in 2001. NAWQA has been a big part of his career and allowed him to work on water quality, groundwater and ecological studies throughout his career. One area he enjoys is the assessment of fish communities and has been the lead for electrofishing in Indiana. His primary area of focus in the past decade has been in the transport, fate, and biological processing of nutrients. In 2012, he took two years off from supervising to coordinate the Midwest Stream Quality Assessment, the first of the Cycle 3 Regional studies for NAWQA. In 2014, Jeff joined the IN-KY WSC management team when he was selected to become the Deputy Director for Indiana in the newly merged, Indiana-Kentucky Water Science Center.

Jeff Frey Deputy Director for Indiana Water Science Center

Outside of the USGS, his two best experiences were working as an inland fisheries biologist in Cameroon for Peace Corps (1986-88) and working as an observer on American fishing boats off the Aleutian chain in Alaska (1990). Jeff is married to Susan Forbes and they have two children, Sara, who will graduate from Purdue University in Theater and Stage Management in the spring and Jessica, who will graduate from North Central H.S. this spring as well. We have a dog who is a Coton/Bichon mix and finally house trained. He likes sports, to travel, is a foodie, and hiking.




Steve Pickard Field Office Chief in Williamsburg, Kentucky

Steve Pickard is currently the Field Office Chief in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He oversees the day-to-day operations working daily with three U.S. Corps of Engineers District offices. He helps to maintain their surface-water program. Steve began his career on Feb. 25, 1985 in the same field office cutting brush and being a levels rodman for a FEMA flood insurance mapping study as a GS-3. He was eventually hired, after four years in the WAE program and being a contract employee, full time and has been in the Williamsburg office ever since.He leads an office of three other technicians and still likes to think the "old dog" approach is still very valuable in our modern data collection era. He pays particular attention to pleasing cooperators providing a somewhat personal rapport with them and their needs. He has seen many changes in data collection and processing from the PRIME to ADAPS and now to Aquarius. Data Collection Platforms (DCPs) were a new concept in 1985 taking the place of graphic and automatic digital recorders. Field computers did not exist at the time as most DCPs were programmed with a simple program and a 15-pound test set. He never envisioned running an entire field trip without a pencil, paper or stopwatch when he began his career. Steve plans to retire in the not too distant future from the same office he started in; saying goodbye forever to passwords, PIN numbers and online training and spending more time with his wife, Stacey, and doing a little traveling between fly fishing and other outdoor pursuits.


Donnie Keeling (OKI WSC) making a measurement from a boat

Donnie Keeling is currently the Field Office Chief in Murray, Kentucky. His career with the USGS began in January 2002 as a Hydrologic Aid at the Paducah Kentucky Field Office. His interest with the USGS began earlier than that! In fourth grade he checked out a book from his elementary library. It was titled, “Mount St. Helens: The Big Blast” by Rita Golden Gelman. “I read the book over and over, and was fascinated by volcanic processes and the heroic David Johnston with the USGS.” That book (which he still has today) fostered an interest in earth science and also with the USGS. He later graduated from Murray State University with a BS in Geography and minor in Geology. As a Hydrologic Aid in the Paducah Field Office, he was mostly a laborer, rod man running levels, or checking the math on mechanical cup measurements. He was hired as a Hydrologic Technician in the same office and has spent a majority of his career streamgaging, with a large amount of time collecting water samples for the NASQAN project on the Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee rivers.

Donnie Keeling with GPS unit used to run surface water levels

Donnie became Field Office Chief in January 2012. During my career I bore witness to hydroacoustic technology reshaping our click-counting field measurements, dataloggers progressing from ESC80 or Handar 560 to Satlink 3, ADAPS to AQ, 9-275 to SVMAQ, and many other advances in between. “I've worked on a water quality sampling detail down the Rio Grande, measured the diverted Mississippi River in the Bird's Point Floodway, and am a proud member of the coveted 1,000,000 cfs club. It truly is a changing world, and it's an honor to work with you and this great agency.” 




Steven Fuller making an flood measurement


Steve Fuller is currently the Field Office Chief for the New Philadelphia Office. He started with the USGS, Ohio WSC in February 2001 as a SCEP student. My first summer with the survey was split between working for the Microbiology Lab and the Data Section. During my time as a student, I had opportunities to help with fish surveying, working on a drill rig, gage construction, and surveying high water. I was hired as a Hydrologist into the Data Section in May 2003 when I graduated from The Ohio State University with a BS in Environmental Science. I have an Associate degree in Construction Management from Columbus State (graduated 1993). I worked in the Columbus Office until April 2008 and then transferred to the New Philadelphia Field Office to become the Field Office Chief.

When I became the Field Office Chief, the Data Chief told me that I had the following four main duties: build new programming, successfully manage the Pittsburg Corps of Engineers’ needs, upgrade the stream gage network, and improve the quality of records. When I first transferred over to New Philadelphia, there were only two employees with an extremely heavy workload. During this time, continuous records processing was in its infancy, the New Philadelphia Office had just started to manage the Pittsburgh Corps of Engineers aging network, and GRSAT was just starting to get used. We managed those duties with only two employees until 2011 when I was able to add staffing. We currently have seven employees that work out of the New Philadelphia Field Office. I became a Supervisory Hydrologist in 2012.





Steven Fuller Field Office Chief for the New Philadelphia, Ohio office

Successes and highlights of my career were made possible with the support of family, supervisors, and coworkers and include:

  • High water surveying in New Jersey
  • High-water measurements in Virginia following Hurricane Isabel
  • In 2007, participated on an interagency work group that assessed the overall health of the stream gage network. This group included ODNR, Ohio EPA and USGS
  • Participates in tri-agency meeting between Pittsburgh COE, Weather Service and USGS
  • Helped secure funding for over 61 gages
  • Helped secure funding to upgrade 25 existing gages
  • Participated in 4 surface water reviews as a reviewer (Mississippi, Tennessee, California, and Montana-Wyoming)
  • Help manage the gage networks for 3 of the largest cooperators in Ohio
  • Completed surface water records to CRP by the April 1 deadline
  • During my career, I have only missed out on working two major floods
  • In summer 2017, I measured road over flow on I-70 just East of Columbus in the Buckeye Lake Area



New Real-Time Streamgages added to the OKI WSC Monitoring Network


Streamgage attached to a bridge railing




2018 OKI WSC Publications

  • Beaver, J.R., Renicker, T.R., Tausz, C.E., Young, J.L., Thomason, J.C., Wolf, Z.L., Russell, A.L., Cherry, M.A., Scotese, K.C., and Koenig, D.T., 2018, Winter swarming behavior by the exotic cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi Sars, 1885 in a Kentucky (USA) reservoir: BioInvasions Records, v. 7, no. 1, p. 43-50,
  • Boldt, J.A., 2018, Development of a hydraulic model and flood-inundation maps for the Wabash River near the Interstate 64 Bridge near Grayville, Illinois: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5140, 13 p.,
  • Fowler, K.K., 2018, Flood-inundation maps for the Patoka River in and near Jasper, southwestern Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5138, 11 p.,
  • Fowler, K.K., 2018, Flood-inundation maps for Cedar Creek at 18th Street at Auburn, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5156, 10 p.,
  • Lant, J.G., and Boldt, J.A., 2018, River meander modeling of the Wabash River near the Interstate 64 Bridge near Grayville, Illinois: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5117, 12 p.,
  • Martin, Z.W., 2017, Flood-inundation maps for the White River at Noblesville, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5123, 11 p.,
  • Martin, Z.W., 2017, Flood-inundation maps for North Fork Salt Creek at Nashville, Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5127, 10 p.,
  • Risch, M.R., and Kenski, D.M., 2018, Spatial patterns and temporal changes in atmospheric-mercury deposition for the Midwestern USA, 2001-2016: Atmosphere, v. 9(1), no. 29, 20 p., doi:10.3390/atmos9010029.
  • Sperl, B.J., 2017, Vulnerable transportation and utility assets near actively migrating streams in Indiana: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1068, 11 p.,


Stream gage at a Lock and Dam site
Stream gage in an enclosed structure








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