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Reclamation announces Upper Red River Basin Study complete

Media Contact: Chelsea Kennedy 7022802824
For Release: Oct 26, 2023
North fork Red River downstream of Lugert-Altus Reservoir. North fork Red River downstream of Lugert-Altus Reservoir.

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Reclamation released the Upper Red River Basin Study report outlining the findings of a seven-year comprehensive study of the upper reaches of the Red River in Oklahoma. The report identifies a range of operational, administrative, and legal strategies that could address water supply imbalances as well as strategies to develop supplemental water supplies.

The Upper Red River Basin Study is a collaborative effort between the Bureau of Reclamation, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Lugert-Altus Irrigation District and Mountain Park Master Conservancy District that evaluated strategies that improve water supply reliability and drought resiliency of two Reclamation reservoirs in southwest Oklahoma - Lugert-Altus Reservoir and Tom Steed Reservoir.

“This basin study brought our partners together and will inform water management strategies in the basin for decades to come,” said Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. “Our collaboration on the study with local officials will help meet future water demands in the basin and help inform water policy with the latest available science.”

Through the basin study, partners developed new ground and surface water models and measured the impacts of upstream water rights on Reclamation’s reservoir supplies. Among the many strategies evaluated through modeling is a new framework for managing water rights during future periods of drought to increase the predictability and reliability of water supplies in the two basins.

Reclamation selected the Upper Red River Basin as part of the WaterSMART Basin Study Program in 2014. Basin studies are comprehensive water studies that define options for meeting future water demands in river basins in the western United States where imbalances in water supply and demand exist or are projected to exist.

The WaterSMART Program addresses increasing water supply challenges, including chronic water shortages due to population growth, climate variability and change and growing competition for finite water supplies. Through the Basin Study Program, Reclamation will work cooperatively with state and local partners in the 17 western states to evaluate future water supply and demand imbalances, assess the risks and impacts of climate change on water resources and develop potential mitigation and adaptation strategies to meet future demands.

To read the Upper Red River Basins Study Summary Report or learn more about WaterSMART and the other basin studies, please visit:

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