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Surface Water Hydrology With GIS
NR595N Section 601
Dr. Thomas Colson, CFM, GISP, LEED AP
Internet Delivery


The application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to real-world examples of surface water investigations including stream and watershed delineations, determination of jurisdiction for regulatory wetlands, and application of these topics towards support of research, regulatory, land planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering disciplines.  Emphasis will be placed upon the use of GIS as a “Hydrologic Information Decision Support System” in support of complex and expensive natural resource management activities.

Who Should Take This Course:

Landscape Architects, Civil and Environmental Engineers, Planners, Regulators, Students, Researchers. In today's tough economy millions of dollars ride on land planning decisions made by YOU. Most large construction projects involve complex teams consisting of staff from many disciplines working for many different firms. Various stages of project implementation are subject to regulatory review and approval. No matter your employer, job description, or role in the process, after taking this course you will:

  • Significantly broaden your application of GIS to all aspects of your work
  • Be able to quickly access A LOT of free (and often unheard-of) GIS to support projects or regulatory compliance
  • Master the acquisition, manipulation, analysis, and export of terrain models
  • Understand the role that surface water plays in your project
  • Understand how GIS is used to support flood and stormwater models
  • Use free software such as Google Earth to transfer data to and from a Garmin
  • Determine run-off curve numbers and event-mean concentrations
  • Add value to your office and save time through the use of GIS to automate and standardize many task
  • Reduce field-work time with GIS job planning
  • Use GIS to predict the habitat of Water Moccasins, thus avoiding them (JK)

The Instructor: Thomas Colson, applies GIS to numerous wetland, stream, and land planning projects throughout the southeast.  These projects include GIS support of field work, due diligence assessments, planning, flood modeling, site design, construction, and permitting tasks. Colson is best known for getting a GPS satellite solution "anywhere", as exemplified below, in environments requiring extra insurance.

What Others Are Saying!

"As a landscape architect, I feel that the knowledge, skills, and abilities that any design professional will learn in this course are an essential part of the profession. Not only did Dr. Colson enable me to use what I learned in this course to make better design and planning decisions, but his support well outside of the course has helped me in my job search, career development, and even some contracting opportunities. I continue to be amazed at his above-average willingness to dedicate time to answering questions and mentoring right up to my graduation day " - Sarah Artuso, MLA

"Tom should be nominated for an award. He is always open to answering questions, and goes to great lengths to be sure that course material is explained in a way that anyone can understand it. Instead of having us buy a book, he has been pulling together a GIS book of his own. All GIS books I have read in the past do not even begin to compare to the knowledge he provided us in his own book. It was more useful than any I have ever purchased. He is always punctual- and overall just an excellent teacher. I have taken two courses from him while here at NC State; both have been EXTREMELY great classes and have only enhanced
education in an extremely positive light."- -Course Evaluation

"The theory and applications I learned in this course allow my company to go after work that we other wise would have to outsource. In addition, I have been able to use the Arc Hydro tools in conjunction with the stormwater engineer services we provide to design better stormwater BMP's, reducing costs to the client and minimizing water quality impacts. I continue to work with Tom on current projects as a joint team" - Jose F. Martinez III, PE, MCE, LEED AP, CPSWQ President M-III Engineering

"Dr. Colson is enthusiastic and highly knowledgeable about the subject matter. It's truly rewarding to learn from his real-world experience and highly applied focus, particularly for a distance learning course that will count toward my GIS Certificate. I sincerely appreciate his effort to incorporate 'tricks' 'tips' and 'tools' into the course... he could have easily redirected his time and energy toward creating numerous quizzes and rote assignments (like every other professor I've had at NC State), but he recognizes that is not an effective form of motivation." - Course Evaluation

"The online lectures and recordings were a great way to learn and were taught well. The instructor showed he knew a lot about the subject matter." - Course Evaluation

"You could tell with the lectures and with the manual that the instructor used, that the instructor spent a LOT of time in preparation of this course. Instructor built a good rapport with the students and was easily accessible."- Course Evaluation

"Yes, This course throughout the semester made me excited...almost gitty at times. I graduated first in 1999 and am a professional PE. I have my own company and some of the things shown in this course will make my life a LOT easier and may help me win some other projects. The instructor seemed to have a fun time during the lectures and kept my attention, which is saying something when the lectures only consisted of a screenshot of the instructor's computer (i.e. I never saw anyone during the lectures...just other student's posted comments). In short, the material was AWESOME, the instructor knowledgeable and entertaining. Unfortunately, I am in BAE and won't be taking any more courses with him due to the my curriculum's requirements.."- -Course Evaluation

"This is a definite must have if you're in my line of work (civil/site design)."- -Course Evaluation

"Instructor was knowledgeable, courteous, entertaining, and provided a manual that I will keep on my engineering desk for awhile to come."- -Course Evaluation

"Tom did a great job explaining all of the course material. Not only is it hard to learn GIS (and computer software in general), but distance education is also challenging. There was never a time when he was not willing to help or answer questions. He wants his
students to succeed, and is one of the best teachers I have had while here at NC State.."- -Course Evaluation

"Tom's demonstration of Arc Hydro and the other less known but more scientifically valid tools and theories has been instrumental to my work in developing stream and wetland assessment protocols for regulatory use. In addition, I feel he taught more about GIS to a "non-GIS" person (me) during this course than all other NCSU GIS courses seem to offer. His tips and tricks and other workarounds could be made into a best seller."- -Susan Gale, North Carolina Division of Water Quality

"I was inspired by your course to expand my water resources acumen, specifically with respect to GIS, and even aspire to contribute to the field. This course is pure utility; exposure to surface water problem-solving applications integral to my job function." -David R. Markwood, AECOM Water
"This is a great class, which has not only created more opportunities for me at work, but also increased efficiency, productivity, as well as overall accuracy of my H&H analysis.  This class also allows collaboration between working professionals so those who are employed can collaborate on ideas; while those students who are not, this class offers a real world look into requirements post-graduation.  I would highly recommend this class to anyone, especially those students interested in working in the H&H fields." -Jonathan Hinkle , Major A/E Firm

"Critical to my research; perhaps shaved years of my analysis with what I learned in this class!" - Karen Cepero , NCSU Graduate Student

"I really did enjoy the class. Tom seemed to feel my class project was the start of a Ph.D....." Richard Andrews , Stantec Consulting

"Best thing about this course was the instructors office- Cup a Joe!."- -Course Evaluation