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Needs & Priorities

Research priorities--photo of research togetherReclamation manages hundreds of dams, reservoirs, canals, and powerplants to bring water to more than 31 million people, to provide irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland, and to generate more than 40 billion kilowatthours of power--enough electricity for 3.5 million homes each year.

Reclamation's Research and Development Program focuses on researching innovative, workable solutions to our challenging issues with managing water and power in the Western United States. We provide solutions for Reclamation water and facility managers and the stakeholders they serve. Our Technology Transfer Program works with researchers and businesses to develop and commercialize these solutions.

Your Input

We need you to ensure the tools and solutions we develop are needed, practical, and valued. With your on-the-ground understanding of Western water challenges and our technical expertise, "living laboratories" and getting results to the market, we can provide solutions to Western water challenges. Contact us with your research priorities and needs.

Reclamation's Program Priorities

Our research focuses on four priority areas to address the most pressing challenges. This research comes from both "directed research" and the priorities for selecting Science and Technology research projects.

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Mitigating the Impact of Invasive Mussels on Water and Power Operations

Quagga and zebra mussels from Europe are causing significant impacts and damage to operations and maintenance of water storage, water delivery, and hydropower structures and systems; recreational use; and aquatic ecosystems. Our mussel research is developing measures to reduce their spread and impacts.

A recycling arrow showing the vicious circle of climate change.

Climate Change and Variability

Our climate change and variability research is improving ways to forecast and use climate change and variability information. These models and information will help water managers and water users plan their short-term operations and water delivery.

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Using Advanced Water Treatment to Stretch Water Supplies

Advanced water treatment is one of our few opportunities to create new water supplies for both inland and coastal areas. Research and innovation are needed to bring these new water supplies to the American West to help fulfill Reclamation's mission. Our Desalination and Water Purification Program focus on advanced water treatment issues, finding ways to more economically and efficiently treat water and dispose of concentrates.
Renewable Energy

Expanding the Generation of Renewable Energy

Reclamation owns and operates 53 powerplants, producing approximately 40 billion kWh of renewable energy annually. Reclamation's generation results in power revenues(exceeding $900 million a year) that are returned to the Federal Treasury to repay the cost of constructing, operating, and maintaining its projects. Reclamation is researching ways to reduce operation and maintenance cost, reduce failures associated with its power related infrastructure, and increase reliability and efficiency. Additionally, Reclamation works with the National Renewable Energy Lab to assess opportunities for solar, wind, and geothermal development at Reclamation facilities.

Research Categories

Our Science and Technology Program is divided into four categories. Search for our research within these categories.

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Environmental Issues in Water Delivery and Management

Improve the reliability of Reclamation water deliveries by producing effective solutions, tools, and practices that Reclamation water managers can use to prevent water conflicts with the environmental demands on water supplies.

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Water and Power Infrastructure Reliability

Improve the reliability of Reclamation water storage, water delivery, and hydropower facilities by producing or advancing effective solutions, tools, and practices that Reclamation facility managers can use to cost effectively maintain, modernize, and extend the life of Reclamation's aging infrastructure.R&D needs should be primarily related to Reclamation's operation and maintenance responsibilities. Safety of Dams R&D should be directed to Reclamation's Dam Safety Program.

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Water Operations Decision Support

Develop solutions and tools that help Reclamation water managers make effective reservoir and river system operational and planning decisions through better integration, evaluation, understanding, and presentation of critical data and information.

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Conserving or Expanding Water Supplies

Enhance water supplies for Reclamation stakeholders with new technologies, solutions, and practices that expand, liberate, or conserve water supplies.

This information was last updated on May 21, 2015
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page