5.1 Decision support systems for river system management in the Colorado and Rio Grande Basins

Tuesday, 11 January 2000: 2:15 PM
Terry Fulp, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO; and S. Hansen, D. King, and D. Matthews

Water is our planet's most valuable natural resource. The Bureau of Reclamation's mission is to manage, develop and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.

Our challenge is to balance the allocation of limited water supplies among competing needs for agriculture, municipal and industrial users while maintaining the quality of riparian habitat for fish, recreation, cultural and human activities. This multiuse management requires accurate and timely streamflow and water demand information. Hence the need for quantitative precipitation analysis and prediction, potential evapotranspiration analysis and forecasts coupled with watershed runoff models and river basin management decision support tools. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the US Geological Survey are participating in the Watershed and River System Management Program (WaRSMP) which provides a data-centered framework for water resources decision making. This paper addresses methods used within Reclamation to apply the latest emerging technologies in data base management, river basin simulation, and watershed runoff that apply National Weather Service forecasts to water resources management.

Reclamation, in partnership with the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES) has developed RiverWare an object-oriented reservoir and river system modeling framework for operational decision-making and planning. RiverWare provides fast, effective, simulations and projections of river system operations. Currently the RiverWare water and accounting tools are being applied to develop the Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model (URGWOM) in a multi-agency effort to better manage the limited water supplies in the Rio Grande Basin. Previous papers in this session by Hartzell, Brower, and Leavesley provide background for this paper: the Agricultural WAter Resources Decision Support (AWARDS) System and the Evapotranspiration Toolbox (ET Tool Box) for URGWOM, and the Modular Modeling System (MMS) respectively. They describe components that help drive water sypply and demand in RiverWare. NOAA's Environmental Prediction Center forecasts from the Eta and MRF models of temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, wind speed and humidity are merged with observational data from NEXRAD, weather stations, stream gages, and SNOTEL sites to provide a more complete set of information on physical controls of water supply and demand. This information is stored in Reclamation's Hydrologic Data Base (HDB) for access by RiverWare and the MMS. The MMS provides streamflow analyses and predictions at key nodes that RiverWare accesses for it's river basin simulation for water managers.

This paper presents the latest results that demonstrate the application of environmental forecast information to improve water resource management in the Rio Grande using RiverWare.

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