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Bill Merkel, M.S., P.E., Hydraulic Engineer

Bill started his career with the Soil Conservation Service in 1969 as an engineering student trainee in Dayton, Ohio. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1973 and a Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975, he joined the SCS Watershed Planning Staff in Columbus, Ohio.

Bill transferred to the Watershed Planning Staff in Reno, Nevada to work on the Colorado River Salinity Control Project, stormwater management evaluations, and Flood Insurance Studies. In Davis, California, he participated in two watershed planning efforts. One of these in the San Jose area has been constructed and is currently in operation. At the Hydrology Unit in Washington, DC, he developed and supported hydrologic, hydraulic, and erosion modeling efforts. He has been involved in developing, updating, and supporting TR-20, TR-55, WSP-2, WEPP, EGEM, AnnAGNPS, and Engineering Field Handbook Chapter 2 (Estimating Runoff and Peak Discharge).

In 1989, Bill transferred to Fort Worth, Texas to be the Hydraulic Engineer on the South National Technical Center. There he provided technical support and training to hydraulic engineers throughout the southern states and Caribbean Area as well as contributing to several interdisciplinary teams within the SNTC. When the South NTC was reorganized, Bill joined the National Water and Climate Center. He has been the team leader for the Hydrology Team of the NWCC and National Water Quality and Quantity Technology Development Team for 7 years.

Bill has participated in technology exchanges with Germany (water quality modeling) and China (soil erosion modeling). His current professional interests are hydrologic and hydraulic modeling using GIS, rainfall frequency and storm analysis, flood routing, and unit hydrographs.

He has authored and co-authored papers and technical reports covering flood plain management, flood routing techniques, unit hydrograph analysis, dam break routing, ephemeral gully erosion, and hydrologic modeling with GIS.

In 2012, Bill was the recipient of the 64th Secretary’s Honor Award in the category of Personal and Professional Excellence. The Secretary’s Honor Awards are the most prestigious departmental awards presented by the Secretary of Agriculture. Bill is the NRCS expert and technical lead for the WinTR-20 computer software.  WinTR-20 and its predecessor, TR-20, Computer Program for Project Formulation, were developed for evaluating the hydrology of Watershed and Flood Prevention Act projects.  Bill's contributions include incorporating current technology to enhance the applicability and usability of WinTR-20 and developing the NRCS GeoHydro ArcGIS extension allowing users to import geographical information system (GIS) data into WinTR-20.  NRCS and private engineers use WinTR-20 for hydrologic evaluations critical to land use management planning and assessing effectiveness of storm water runoff and flood control measures.  Because of his hard work and dedication, WinTR-20 is recognized as one of the most important watershed planning tools that USDA provides for scientists, engineers, and conservationists.

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