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Released On: August 12, 2010

Reclamation Selects Research Grants to Develop Climate Analysis Tools through WaterSMART Program
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor announced the selection of $773,483 in research grant proposals to develop climate analysis tools. This money will be leveraged to fund $1,624,396 in climate change research.

"The science is quite clear that climate change will add to the challenges we face today in managing our water supply, water quality, flood risks, wastewater, aquatic ecosystems, and energy production," said Commissioner Connor. "Improving our knowledge about how climate change will impact water resources in the west will improve our ability to manage water into the future."

The research grants to develop climate analysis tools are new this year. This grant program was developed to fund research projects that will lead to enhanced management of western water resources in a changing climate. It was open to universities and non-profit research institutions as well as organizations with water or power delivery authority

Five grants selected this year for funding. Those scheduled to receive grants are:

  • Climate Central, Inc., a non-profit, collaborative group of scientists will receive $200,000 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $400,000. They will create a comprehensive and new historical climate data set for the western United States. The project will also create an associated set of downscaled projections of future climate for the region in a complementary manner to temperature and precipitation projections currently in existence by including descriptions of solar radiation and wind speed, for example.
  • The University of Colorado Regents, through the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Services, will receive $150,000 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $372,418. They will develop a set of tools to facilitate robust water management decision-making. The project will add new capabilities to RiverWare, an existing water management tool, so that adaptation strategies can be evaluated to reduce the risk and impacts associated with climate change to future water systems operations.
  • The Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey will receive $84,647 in Reclamation funding for a total project cost of $174,293. They will provide practical methodologies and tools to assist with the incorporation of climate change impacts into water resources planning efforts within the State of Oklahoma and beyond. It will explore multiple methods for translating climate projections into estimates of water supply availability through explicit and implicit hydrological modeling.
  • Dr. Bridget R. Scanlon of the University of Texas at Austin - Bureau of Economic Geology -will receive $199,999 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $399,999. The University of Texas will study the impacts of past droughts and potential future droughts with the geographic area of the High Plains aquifer. It will explore the relationship between the climate of the 20th Century, the High Plains Aquifer, and the droughts of the 1930's and 1950's.
  • The Arizona Board of Regents through the University of Arizona will receive $138,837 in Reclamation funding with a total project cost of $277,686. This project will study the impacts of climate change and climate variability on the water demand of growing cities as demands are compounded by the "urban heat island" effect, which is an increase in temperatures relative to the surrounding environment resulting from the infrastructure in urban environments.

WaterSMART is a program of the U.S. Department of the Interior that focuses on improving water conservation and sustainability, and helping water-resource managers make sound decisions about water use. It identifies strategies to ensure that this and future generations will have sufficient supplies of clean water for drinking, economic activities, recreation, and ecosystem health. The Program also identifies adaptive measures to address climate change and its impact on future water demands.

Editor's Note: A complete description of the projects is attached.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.