Water Resources Management

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1375–1393 | Cite as

Development and Application of a Nowcast and Forecast System Tool for Planning and Managing a River Chain of Lakes

  • John R. Reimer
  • Chin H. WuEmail author


A nowcast and forecast system for providing real-time water information of a River Chain of Lakes (RCL) is developed. The system infrastructure comprises a web portal to retrieve and display observations that are used to drive models under a high performance computing server. Water level and flow discharge information are obtained from a suite of models that be directly simulate the RCL system. A new data assimilation technique based upon flow routing algorithm and nested-mesh domain reduction is developed to update the Manning’s roughness. It is demonstrated that the INFOS can reliably and effectively model real-time reverse flows due to sustained wind forcings or tranisent seiches, and flow choking due to channel constriction. Applications of the developed system are illustrated. Specifically water level planning scenarios provide a quantitative measure for lake management to reduce floods under extreme rainfall events. Alternative management philosophies to minimize exceeding the water level orders are evaluated. Overall, the Integrated Nowcast and Forecast Operation System (INFOS) provides reliable and timely water information for the RCL for sharing information to the community, planning for water use and delivery, and management of the Yahara RCL.


River chain of lakes Nowcast and forecast system Flow reversal Flow choking Planning Management 



This research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation DEB-0941510, Dane County Land and Water Resources Department (DCLWRD) MSN126143, and the City of Madison, Wisconsin 97235340–1. Specifically the authors thank Mr. Kevin Connor, Director of DCLWRD, and Mr. Greg Fries, Principal Engineer, at the City of Madison for their continuous support of the INFOS development and applications. Mr. Jeremy Balousek and Mr. Josh Harder at DCLWRD for their comments and suggestions to address complex hydraulics on the Yahara RCL are highly acknowledged. The authors also thank Dr. Paul Hanson at the Center of Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison for the collaboration of the deployment of the real-time Lake Mendota buoy ( In addition, Ms. Sue Josheff at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for her assistance to provide permit for installing water level gauges is highly acknowledged. Finally, both authors thank Dr. Yin-Tien (Kevin) Lin and Mr. William Kasch to assist data collection of lake bathymetry and water level.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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