Optimization of Water Management within the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Arizona

Project ID: 22108
Principal Investigator: Meghan Thiemann
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2022, 2023 and 2024
Keywords: None

Research Question

The CRIT is located on a reservation along the Colorado River with land and water rights in both Arizona and California about 150 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona. CRIT possess senior federal Indian reserved water rights from the Colorado River mainstream. This proposal is limited to the portion of CRIT's 662,402 AF allocation for diversion in Arizona, of which about 99% is available for delivery through the Colorado River Irrigation Project, a federal project operated by the BIA.

Currently, CRIT, the irrigation facility manager/operator (BIA), and Reclamation, as the Lower Colorado River watermaster (on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior) rely on different mechanisms to order, account for, deliver, and/or use CRIT's Colorado River water allocation for irrigation on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. The different processes are not integrated and rely on a range of methods from hand-written to verbal to digital for transferring the information. This results in multiple opportunities for error (e.g. transcription error), loss of information (agency computer systems and software are incompatible), and lack of transparency (inability to access and monitor databases tracking water needs and use). In Water Year 2019, this may have contributed to an 87,000 AF under-diversion of CRIT's available water allocation. In addition, data gathering and reporting between the multiple agencies has not been consistent and transparent, and CRIT has not been able to access data on water deliveries to farm parcels.

Research Question: Can computer software or a package of software (commercially available or internally developed code) be identified and/or employed to integrate and streamline the processes used by CRIT, BIA and Reclamation for managing water diverted through the Colorado River Irrigation Project to improve efficiency for water ordering and accounting, and impact end user experience in terms of accuracy, transparency, accessibility and reliability?

Need and Benefit

This project was coordinated with research coordinator Ken Nowak. It will integrate processes used to order/account for/deliver CRIT's Colorado River water allocation in Arizona. Ken agreed this will improve collaboration between CRIT, BIA, and Reclamation and potentially allow for operational/water management flexibilities during severe drought in the Colorado River Basin. Results may be of interest to agencies/tribes/irrigation districts whose water management processes need modernization.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20