Mark Tompkins of FlowWest to teach floodplain reconnection at annual Geomorphic and Ecological Fundamentals of River and Stream Restoration short course


 Dr. Mark Tompkins will be leading a session on floodplain reconnection at this year’s Geomorphic and Ecological Fundamentals of River and Stream Restoration professional short course at the Sagehen Field Station near Lake Tahoe. This course attracts a diverse array of river restoration professionals and is a phenomenal learning and collaborative experience. Dr. Tompkins has been an instructor for this course for over a decade and looks forward to meeting a passionate group of river restoration professionals.

FlowWest at the California Water Data Summit


FlowWest to present at 4th Annual Water Data Summit

Sadie Gill will give a lightning talk Thursday August 22nd on open source technology for better collaboration in California water. She will describe FlowWest data stewardship work with CVPIA’s structured decision making process. Mark Tompkins will be part of a panel discussion on Friday August 23rd about California water data interoperability. Come say hi!

FlowWest at the Arab-American Frontiers Symposium in Kuwait!


Mark Tompkins will represent FlowWest at the National Academy of Engineering’s sixth Arab-American Frontiers Of Science, Engineering, and Medicine Symposium November 4-6 in Kuwait City. The event is hosted by and in partnership with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science.  The meeting will bring together US and Arab scientists, engineers, and medical professionals to discuss major scientific and engineering advances on the topics of big data, water systems, the microbiome, air quality, and next-generation buildings and infrastructure. Dr. Tompkins will be presenting on FlowWest’s ground-breaking work using open water data, remotely sensed habitat data, and artificial intelligence to improve management of water resources and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.

FlowWest at the AI for Earth Education Summit in Redmond, WA!


Sadie Gill from FlowWest is at Microsoft's AI for Earth Summit in Redmond, WA this week! The conference is focused on the latest technology in machine learning and other tools on Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing environment and how AI can solve pressing environmental challenges.

Sadie is leading our ongoing work quantifying floodplain habitat for anadromous fish using remote sensing and machine learning, and she’s presenting this work at the conference.

FlowWest at the 2018 California Safe Drinking Water Data Challenge!

Click the image to see the tool!

Click the image to see the tool!

FlowWest is a proud participant in California's 2018 Safe Drinking Water Data Challenge. We answered the call to show our commitment to open water data by using open water quality data to develop an effective tool that will help ensure that safe drinking water is available to every Californian. 

FlowWest data scientist Sadie Gill partnered with CALPIRG's public health advocate Laura Deehan and visual journalist / interactive web developer Lo Benichou. Our team used data released by the San Francisco Unified School District and found that half the schools contained lead in the drinking water.

Our data visualization tool maps each school based on its lead level. The tool makes clear the unsafe lead levels in schools to community members and links to resources to help concerned citizens take action. 

An award ceremony and summit concluding the Safe Drinking Water Data Challenge will be held October 18th in Los Angeles. 

FlowWest at the 16th International Conference on Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control, October 1-4, 2018!

Paul Frank from FlowWest will be speaking next week at the 16th International Conference on Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control (ICWS) in Valencia, Spain! In 2014, he presented FlowWest’s Khirbet Kanafar Wetland System in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon at the 14th ICWS in Shanghai, and in 2010, he led the 12th ICWS’s technical tour of the 250-acre Fusina Wetlands near Venice which he designed between 2006-2010.

This year, Paul will be talking about FlowWest’s work to improve water quality in the Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay in California. The Salinas Valley produces more than 50% of the USA’s salad greens and generates an agricultural economy greater than $8 billion per year. These agricultural activities generate some of the greatest nutrient (especially nitrogen) and agricultural pollution loads in the USA, which drain into the Salinas River via a network of agricultural drainage canals. Depending on seasonal conditions, the agricultural pollution from the Salinas River can cause a so-called “dead zone” of hypoxia in the Monterey Bay.

The Salinas Valley is famous for its artichokes.

The Salinas Valley is famous for its artichokes.

FlowWest is working with the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County (RCD) to develop innovative, natural water treatment systems that remove nutrients and other chemicals from agricultural drainage before it reaches the Salinas River. Much of the lower Salinas Valley’s agricultural runoff makes its way to the River via the Blanco Drain, a canal that intercepts drainage from 6,400 acres of fields. During 2017, FlowWest designed two biologically-based systems that could fit either on unused farmland adjacent to the Drain, or within the Drain itself. Two of these systems are set to be built next year.

The Blanco Drain is miles long, cuts through the lower Salinas Valley, and drains runoff and irrigation excess to the Salinas River and ultimately Monterey Bay.

The Blanco Drain is miles long, cuts through the lower Salinas Valley, and drains runoff and irrigation excess to the Salinas River and ultimately Monterey Bay.

Cache Creek Resources Management Plan Receives 2018 CSAC Merit Award!


The California State Association of Counties has just released its 2018 Challenge and Merit Awards for innovative programs. Out of 275 applicants, 15 programs received Challenge Awards while 36 received Merit Awards.

Our long-time client, the County of Yolo, received a Merit Award for the Cache Creek Resources Management Plan (CCRMP). We’re proud to be working with Yolo and the rest of the CCRMP technical team to make Cache Creek a more sustainable, healthy ecosystem and better resource for all!

Great Valley Grasslands Floodplain Restoration Project Funded!

Yesterday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it will be funding the final design and construction of American Rivers’ Great Valley Grasslands Floodplain Restoration Project! CDFW has committment $1.3 million to the project which will fund final engineering design and construction.

Great Valley Grasslands State Park is located near Turlock, CA, along the San Joaquin River, and contains and contains most of the only remaining untilled native grasslands in California’s Central Valley. The park is also part of the greater Grasslands Ecological Area, which contains California’s largest remaining contiguous block of wetland habitats. Even more, it contains numerous Native American archaeological deposits. These features make the site an incredibly unique location with significant habitat value.

Unfortunately, there are a number of historical levees on the site that disconnect a significant portion of the park from the river yet do not protect any structures or private land. The photograph below shows how this occurred during high flows in February 2017.

Flooding in 2017 surrounds a large, disconnected parcel at Great Valley Grasslands State Park (photo courtesy of Daniel Nylen, American Rivers)

Flooding in 2017 surrounds a large, disconnected parcel at Great Valley Grasslands State Park (photo courtesy of Daniel Nylen, American Rivers)

American Rivers has led the project, working with stakeholders such as California State Parks and the Lower San Joaquin Levee District. FlowWest has been working on this project for almost 8 years, including the initial conceptual studies, engineering design, hydraulic simulations, and CEQA/NEPA compliance and permitting.

Great Valley Grasslands State Park, hydraulic simulation with partial levee removal

Final design will occur in 2019, and construction likely in 2020. Congratulations to our friends at American Rivers for winning the funding for this awesome project!

FlowWest receives AI for Earth Grant from Microsoft


Oakland, CA – June, 29 2018 - FlowWest has been awarded an AI for Earth grant from Microsoft to help further our efforts in advancing the quality of information describing salmonid habitat using machine learning and satellite imagery.

This new grant will provide FlowWest with cloud computing resources to accelerate our work on new and improved methods to quantify floodplain habitat at the landscape scale. Outputs from this work will assist resource managers in their efforts to restore salmon populations and other floodplain-dependent species. Our project will provide information needed to make floodplain restoration and management decisions data-driven and trackable.

Mark Tompkins, one of the founders of FlowWest, remarked: “I’ve been working on floodplain habitat restoration for over twenty years. This new technology offers us the potential to optimize our restoration actions and then monitor and learn from them like nothing I’ve seen before. FlowWest is excited about this partnership with Microsoft to bring the power of AI to natural resources management in a very impactful way.”

AI for Earth is a Microsoft program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities, while accelerating innovation. AI for Earth grants provide Azure compute resources and AI tools to NGOs, academic institutions and research organizations that work on challenges in climate change, biodiversity, agriculture and water.

FlowWest is one of the newest organizations to be recognized by Microsoft for its impact and potential, and will join a growing number of AI for Earth grantees worldwide.

Learn more:

Microsoft AI for Earth:

FlowWest completes Goldmann Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program!

FlowWest is proud to have completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) program. We are excited to implement our new strategic growth plan to bring the power of Open Data and Open Source solutions to water resources management, and to create lots of exciting and rewarding new jobs along the way! Please let us know if you’d like to hear more about where FlowWest is headed in the new Open Water Data world.


FlowWest helps Yolo County Monitor Change on Cache Creek and Make Data More Open

FlowWest's work on Cache Creek was Recently covered by the Daily Democrat

FlowWest's work on Cache Creek was Recently covered by the Daily Democrat

Cache Creek is a tributary of the Sacramento River and is one of Yolo County's most important natural resources.  In decades past, gravel from its streambed was mined and used in the concrete and asphalt that built many of San Francisco and the Bay Area's buildings and roadways.  That gravel mining had dire consequences on the ecosystem of Cache Creek and Yolo County has been working diligently for more than 20 years at the difficult task of maintaining the important economy of gravel mining while at the same time restoring the ecosystem of Cache Creek.

The solution the County came up with in 1996 was to move mining out of the Creek itself and onto adjacent parcels that contain gravels laid down millennia ago.  The so-called Off-Channel Mining Plan or OCMP laid the groundwork for this while its companion the Cache Creek Resource Management Plan or CCRMP lays out a vision for bringing the ecosystem back to life.  Together, these plans make up the Cache Creek Area Plan or CCAP and when it was conceived and implemented by Yolo County in 1996 it was years ahead of its time as a framework for adaptive management of fragile ecosystems.

Fast forward to 2018 and Yolo County has just finished a sweeping 20-year retrospective of the program laid out by the CCAP that updates the technologies and science that are its foundations.  FlowWest is proud to be a cornerstone of the CCAP program, where both Mark Tompkins and Paul Frank sit on the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) that guides the program.  A key component of that 20-year update was development of a new web-based application that allows users to interact with all the program's data collected over 20 years.  FlowWest has migrated all these data into a cloud database so that Yolo County residents and stakeholders can become more involved in the process than ever.

Last week, Paul Frank helped Yolo County staff present the 2017 Annual Report to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.  2017 was a very active year for creeks all over California, but especially Cache Creek, which migrated laterally up to 100 feet in some places.  The local Daily Democrat recently reported on this, including FlowWest's development of a cloud-based software application that takes all the data collected under the CCAP program and makes it publicly available for the first time in the program's history.


FlowWest at the Water Education Foundation's 40th Anniversary Celebration


FlowWest is a proud sponsor of the Water Education Foundation’s 40th Anniversary celebration that will take place on October 26, 2017 in Sacramento.

With four Water Leaders program alums (Anna Constantino 2016, Paul Frank 2010, Mark Tompkins 2000, and Mike Urkov 1999) in our ranks, WEF is in our DNA! Congratulations to a great organization on forty years of amazing work on California’s water resources.

Sadie Gill to represent FlowWest at the 2017 Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference

On Saturday, October 21, Sadie Gill will be speaking at the 2017 Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference hosted in La Jolla, CA. She will be giving a presentation, entitled ‘Make Prettier Shiny Apps.’

Shiny is a powerful web framework for building attractive interactive data visualizations with R. While the Shiny UI defaults are sufficient,  knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap enable developers to gain full control over the layout and styling of their Shiny web apps. Sadie is excited to share the tips and tricks she has learned while at FlowWest so that others can make prettier apps too!

Find out more about the conference at:

And click the image below to see some one of the great Shiny apps Sadie has developed:

Anna Constantino to Present at ASCE EWRI Congress in Sacramento on Monday, May 22!

On Monday, May 22nd, Anna Constantino will be representing FlowWest and the Water Education Foundation 2016 Class of Water Leaders at the ASCE EWRI Congress in Sacramento. Her presentation will highlight several recommendations from Strategies for Achieving Water Sustainability—written by the Water Leaders Class of 2016 to address California’s challenges achieving water sustainability in supply, demand-side management, laws and governance, funding, public education and data.  

Our strategies for achieving water sustainability range from revising the language in outreach messaging to investing in technological innovation to further our understanding of climate change impacts on our watersheds and communities. A common theme within the recommendations is capitalizing on the engagement of local stakeholders such as local governments, citizen scientists, farmers, tribes, students and more.

After a year of researching and developing the report, the we found that by putting more responsibility in the hands of local water regulators, managers and users, California can address several important sustainability goals.  These include improved water data transparency and access, greater understanding of watershed science and processes, broader restoration of critical habitat, and improved water use efficiency. We also highlight the exigent need for state and federal governments to act to meet sustainability goals. These actions include investing in infrastructure repair, reformulating permitting structures and supporting the expansion of water markets.

The strategies presented in the report and summarized in Anna’s presentation on Monday were developed by the diverse group of Water Leaders 2016 alumni, including engineers, farmers, lawyers, policy analysts and more, and reflect the group’s vision for a sustainable water future in California.

Please stop by the Exhibit Hall on Monday to delve deeper into these topics with Anna. Also, FlowWest is looking for a planner and an engineer to join our team! Stop by and chat with Anna to learn more about our dynamic group with offices in Oakland and Sacramento.

FlowWest Presenting at EN2017 in Philadelphia

EN2017 is the national meeting for the EPA’s Exchange Network and E-Enterprise programs. Anthony Falzone from FlowWest will present on Wednesday at 1:30 in Session 8 on work FlowWest completed for the Klamath Tribes.  Mr. Falzone’s presentation will show how the Klamath Tribes and FlowWest used the Exchange Network to harness the power of the Tribes’ rich collection of water quality information and will highlight data visualization tools developed for ecosystem managers.


The presentation will be webcast live. Click on the link ( )  to open the agenda and then click on the hyperlink for the webcast for Session 8: Innovations in Water Monitoring Data to catch the presentation on Wednesday at 1:30 (eastern time). The presentations will be archived on the Exchange Network’s website for viewing in the future ( ).