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Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology

Water Observing Technology Forum

The University of Alabama | Alabama Water Institute

Dates: April 23-25, 2024

Location: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, Bryant Conference Center


Greetings, water observing technology leaders! The University of Alabama’s Alabama Water Institute (AWI) and the USGS Next Generation Water Observing System (NGWOS) are excited to announce the inaugural Water Observing Technology Forum (WOTF). The WOTF will be a three-day event occurring April 23-25, 2024, at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Organizing Committee is comprised of representatives from the AWI, the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and represent a wide range of knowledge and expertise in water observing technologies. The planning and delivery of the WOTF is supported by the Cooperative Institute for Research to Operations in Hydrology (CIROH) through CIROH’s partnership with the USGS. We are excited to bring the water observing community together for this exciting event and to see what new opportunities will come from it!

The WOTF will showcase the latest research into innovative technologies and methods for measuring water quantity, quality, and availability. Special focus will be placed on exposing gaps in our traditional monitoring technologies and where science, innovation, and partnerships can help fill those gaps. Speakers will include Federal agency representatives, academic researchers, and industry leaders. This year’s forum will focus on the following technology themes:

  • Imagery as Data
  • Mobile Monitoring Systems
  • Industry Showcase

Research into the utility of imagery-based observing platforms in regional and national surface and ground water monitoring networks has expanded greatly in the last five years. This research has included evaluation of methods that incorporate satellite, airborne, proximal, and mobile in-situ remote sensing platforms and has yielded useful and exciting results. Establishing data requirements and standards as well as data transfer and delivery tools for imagery data are critical gaps that have been addressed through several coordinated efforts that will be discussed at the Forum.

The water monitoring community is also exploring the use of mobile monitoring systems to measure water parameters. These systems include small uncrewed aerial and underwater vehicles as well as surface vessels. Having the ability to locate sensors in locations that are otherwise expensive or unsafe to send field staff and collect data over a large area in a short amount of time makes these platforms attractive. As advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to expand this field, the application of these types of models into the operational algorithms of uncrewed automated observing platforms could lead to the capability for “smart swarming” algorithms.


Participants will represent other Federal Agencies, industry, academia, resource management agencies, NGOs, and existing partners. Attendees will be challenged with identifying critical observation gaps and emerging water monitoring and sensing technologies for future investment.

Speakers will provide updates on their research into innovative water monitoring technologies, and everyone is welcome to provide a poster to have on display during the WOTF. There will be opportunities for open discussion on the themes and an Industry Partnerships Day to engage with industry experts in these fields.

Attendees will also be provided an opportunity to tour the new, state of the art USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) located near the Bryant Conference Center!


All attendees are welcome to provide a poster to have on display. These posters need to be 48 inches wide by 36 inches high in dimension. If you do not want to travel with your poster, The Sign Shop on campus is able to print a poster for you at a rate of $48. You will be responsible for collecting your own poster.


Day 1: Imagery as Data

Presentations on active research and development of mobile monitoring systems, including, but not limited to, fixed and mobile camera systems, such as infrared, hyper- and multi-spectral imaging. An open discussion will close the day and will focus on:

  • Hardware and software options for environmental monitoring
  • Quality assurance procedures and privacy concerns
  • Fusing open-source software development with commercial products
  • Hurdles for operational implementation of imagery in regional and national monitoring networks

Day 2: Mobile Monitoring Systems

Presentations on active research and development of imagery-based scientific applications, including, but not limited to, uncrewed/autonomous surface and submerged vehicles, remotely operated vehicles, drifting platforms, vertical profiling platforms, and low-altitude drones. An open discussion will close the day and will focus on:

  • What are the biggest barriers to implementation? 
  • Re-engineering technology from oceans to rivers    
  • Fusing open-source software development with commercial products

Day 3: Industry Showcase

Presentations on industry – academia – government partnerships with a focus on developing water monitoring technologies for “Imagery as Data” and “Mobile Monitoring Systems”.  The day will include interactions with on-site vendors, presentations on facilitating partnerships, tours of the new USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility, and opportunities for networking. 

HIF Tour

An architectural rendering of the new Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility building in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

We are excited to offer attendees a first look at the USGS Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) on the University of Alabama campus.  The 95,000 square feet, two story facility will include a hydraulics lab, water-quality labs, field testing facilities, environmental chambers, sensor innovation space, warehouse, training labs, network operations center and administrative offices. Unique features of the hydraulics lab will include a tilting flume and test basin for simulating river and stream processes, and a 350 foot-long tow tank and carriage which will provide a national water-velocity standard for calibrating field instrumentation.  Construction is currently planned for completion in April 2024 with the facility being occupied by USGS starting in June 2024. There will be opportunities to take a tour of the new HIF on Day 3, stay tuned for more information.


Thank you for your interest in attending the Water Observing Technology Forum (WOTF) on April 23-25, 2024 at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  In person attendance will be limited to 150 registered participants in order to maximize networking and demonstration opportunities.  However, virtual attendance will be available to all interested parties.  There is no registration or exhibitor cost for this Forum.  Speakers will be invitation only, but poster presentations (days 1 and 2) and exhibitor booths (day 3) can be requested when registering. For questions about logistics, please contact The Alabama Water Institute’s Event Coodinator, Meredith Marsh at For questions about the program, please contact Russ Lotspeich at, Brian Pellerin at, Mario Tamburri at or Steve Burian at


The nearest major airport to Tuscaloosa is in Birmingham, AL, which is about an hour drive from Tuscaloosa. Please plan to rent your own car or carpool with other attendees to get from the airport to Tuscaloosa. Let the planning committee know if this will be an issue and we will try to accommodate everyone to make sure you don’t miss the event.

There are several hotels near the Bryant Conference Center. A block of rooms have been reserved at the Hotel Indigo and the Hotel Capstone (booking links below):

For Federal travelers, please note the maximum lodging allowed is $107 per night in Tuscaloosa and ensure this rate is offered before booking your room.

The last date to book as part of a block at both hotels is March 22 2024.

Hotel Capstone

Rate: $134 per night for a traditional room

How to use the link —

  1. Hold down control and double click on the link above to open up the webpage
  2. Choose your date of arrival by clicking on “check-in” and departure in “check-out”; select “search”
  3. Select the room type you prefer by clicking on “Show Rooms” and it will drop down your available options
  4. Select “Book Now” for the room that fits your needs|Complete your reservation by entering all requested information and click “Continue”; you will receive a confirmation number upon completion.
    • NOTE — Only the dates above and room types contracted are available at the contracted rate — rooms requested outside of your block dates or different room types are based on availability and at the prevailing rate.

Hotel Indigo

Rate: $107 per night

Simply click on the link, and you will be directed to the website and be able to select your preferred room type and dates for your stay at the contracted rate under your block.

Other hotel options

Embassy Suites

2410 University Boulevard Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35401, USA

Hampton Inn

600 Harper Lee Drive Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 35404, USA

The planning committee is planning to have shuttle buses available to provide transportation to and from the Bryant Conference Center.

For more information about the forum please contact


The below organizations will be exhibiting on Day 3 of the conference.

Dell Technologies Logo
Truatta Environmental Solutions Logo
Campbell Scientific Logo
Kisters Logo
Cradlepoint Logo
SensiFlood by Evigia Logo
Fondriest Environmental Inc. Logo
The University of Alabama Logo
United States Geological Survey
Aquatic Sensors Logo

Ott HydroMet


Pacific Gyre

Xylem Analytics – SonTek

Stroud Water Research Center


Sofar Ocean


In-Situ Inc.

Geolux d.o.o.

Please refer to the exhibitor packet for information.

WOTF Planning Committee