My summer was off to a slow start. After spending hours applying for summer internships with federal agencies through the cumbersome, faceless, USAJOBS website, and receiving no response, I began to think I was going to have a lot of free time this summer. I learned late of the AHS Herman Bouwer Intern Scholarship and was fortunate that the deadline had been extended. I wasted no time in filling out the application and getting my essay in with no expectations and really no idea what to expect. When I received a call from AHS member Stephen Acquafredda, and an invitation to come in for an interview, I was just excited to meet with someone face to face and have the opportunity to talk to a real, live person. Although the idea of having a summer off was appealing, I really hoped to meet my internship hours required as a part of the Hydrologic Studies Program at GateWay Community College, stay on track for completion next spring, and get some valuable work experience over the summer. Much to my surprise, I was in luck, and the next day I received a call from Stephen to let me know I had been selected to receive the 2013 AHS Herman Bouwer Intern Scholarship.
My first experience of the internship was spending one long, productive day with some kind folks from J.E. Fuller Hydrology and Geomorphology. I traveled with Ethan Rode from Tempe up to Watson Lake in Prescott where we would be installing an ALERT station on the dam to replace one that had been damaged. Onsite we met with Cory and Jeff from J.E. Fuller and began to load gear up in a pair of canoes for the first of several trips across the lake to the dam. A team of divers met us at the dam to assist in the installation, and by midday we were well on the way to completion. I got to assist Jeff in using a GPS base station and rover to take a cross section of the top of the dam. At the same time, Ethan and Cory were busy calibrating the transducer and transmitter and ensuring everything was functioning properly. Although there were a few hiccups along the way, it was nothing the J.E. Fuller team could not handle, and I was impressed with their hard work, ability and determination to stay on task until the job was done right.
The next two weeks of my internship were spent working at the USGS Tempe Field Office. Bert Duet was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to get me signed up, and coordinated scheduling with the Hydrologic Technicians to get me out in the field. We had just received a fair amount of monsoon rains the previous weekend and the staff at USGS was busy planning out visits to gage sites. My first trip out was with technician Will Hershey to Santa Cruz Wash near Maricopa. The normally dry wash was flowing with over two feet of chocolate milk colored water. The water was receding fast but we were able to get a discharge measurement using a FlowTracker before it dropped too much. I traveled out to the Sycamore Creek gage site with technician Mike Sanders where we had to dig out quite a bit of mud that had buried the bubbler orifice and disrupted the transmission of stream levels. I made several trips with technician Frank Schaffner to some sites along the Verde River to take discharge measurements and made visits to Horseshoe and Bartlett dams. A couple of days were also spent with Bert making to rounds to check crest staff gages for high water marks after the storms.
After a busy two weeks with the USGS, I headed over to the Arizona Department of Water Resources where my host Dave Christiana had me set up with a full schedule in a variety of departments. I traveled with Brian Conway and Paul Ivanich to Central Arizona Project headquarters and sat in on the presentation of their study on earth fissures that could pose a threat to the canal. Brian also took me out to the east valley to see the fissures and do some surveying. I met with the Floodplain Management team and learned more about the Arizona Flood Warning System and how the ALERT station I helped install tied into it. I had an interesting and informative talk with Keith Nelson in the Modeling Department and met with Dianne Yunker to learn about GIS work at the Department. I had the opportunity to meet Deputy Director Mike Lacey as well as Jesse Sandoval from the Community Water Program and Ruth Greenhouse from the Drought/Conservation Program. My last day at ADWR was spent out in the field with Nick Valverde learning how to take levels at index wells around the valley.
The final stop in my internship experience was at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, where I was welcomed by Jason Sutter, supervisor of the TMDL Program. Jason taught me the ins and outs of the program and I learned about the large area of responsibility his small but effective team must cover in order to help protect and improve surface water quality in the state. I learned about the states obligations in meeting Clean Water Act requirements and the efforts that go into that. I also got to meet with several people from the Ambient Monitoring unit and learned about procedures for stream assessment and the identification of water quality impairments. One of my final stops was at Jake Breedlove’s office, where he explained the process and goals of the Water Quality Improvement Grant program. I really enjoyed learning about the work done by the TMDL and Ambient Monitoring groups and feel that I gained valuable insight that will help guide my educational path.
So as it turned out, my summer was anything but slow. The internship experience kept my schedule full, and my head racing to keep up and process everything I was learning. The AHS internship gave me the chance to see firsthand the application of knowledge and concepts covered in my studies and to discover new areas of interest. The AHS has been very generous in providing this internship opportunity for students and I am grateful to have been selected as this year’s recipient. Thanks to Ethan Rode at J.E. Fuller, Bert Duet at the USGS, Dave Christiana at ADWR, Jason Sutter at ADEQ and the helpful staff at each agency that took the time to show me around and share their knowledge with me. Thank you to Summer Waters at the U of A Maricopa Extension for introducing me to the AHS through the Master Watershed Steward Program and encouraging me to get involved. Thanks to Stephen Acquafredda for taking the time to mentor me and previous interns, and helping to guide and coordinate our internship experience. I’d also like to thank the late Dr. Herman Bouwer for his contributions to the field and his generosity and support for the AHS Intern Scholarship. I am looking forward to a rewarding career in hydrology and to future participation in the AHS!
— Matthew Minjares