5.5 Ecosystem management in the Upper Colorado basin: can climate information help provide water for ecosystems?

Tuesday, 11 January 2000: 3:15 PM
Andrea J Ray, NOAA/CDC, Boulder, CO

At a time in which water in the interior U.S. West is often fully allocated for consumptive uses, it is a challenge to maintain instream flows and timing of these flows to meet ecosystem management goals. However, policies to implement ecosystem protection are particularly vulnerable to water shortage, and the implications of climate variability are not being considered in a number of environmental policies which depend on water. These include the recovery implementation plans for endangered species, National Park Service and National Forest Service ecosystem management policies, and quantification of federal reserved rights for flows. Furthermore, seasonal climate information might be used proactively in the management of water to meet ecosystem goals. This presentation reports on an ongoing case study in the Upper Colorado basin to assess the potential for climate information to be useful in managing water resources. The project involves workshops to present and discuss climate information based on NOAA forecasts and outlooks; interviews with water managers to determine what they know about forecasts, if and how they are use forecasts in their operations, and barriers to use of the information; and an analysis of water management policies and practices in the basin.
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