Automating Refuge Water Supply Data

Project ID: 3764
Principal Investigator: Timothy Blair
Research Topic: Ecosystem Needs
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016 and 2017
Keywords: None

Research Question

Can a web portal for water scheduling increase efficiency, support data quality, and provide transparency through on-line reporting? CVPIA (Sec 3406(d)) directs the Secretary of Interior through Reclamation to deliver specific quantities of water supplies of suitable quality to 19 wildlife refuges, wildlife areas, and privately owned/managed wetlands (collectively referred to as refuges). Each refuge submits water schedules and water delivery reports. Currently these data entry submittals are manually transmitted in various formats, resulting in inefficiencies, errors and significant Reclamation staff time translating these data into usable form. The lack of a centralized database with associated analysis and visualization tools reduces opportunities in the areas of data organization, QA/QC, accounting, reporting, and schedule optimization. Administrative queries on these data tend to be complex, custom in nature, and highly expedited. Information request related to these data are used to judge the performance of the program. This research will investigate the requirements and options available to implement web based portal/data base technologies to facilitate scheduling request submissions and subsequent analysis and query responses.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation allocates, schedules, delivers, and charges for water across the western United States. Within the Mid-Pacific Region, accounting for water supplies occurs as a series of manual transactions in individual Area Offices with data transmitted by email or phone in a variety of formats. Billing and reporting requires a number of manual transactions. Verification and validation require a deliberate effort with an additional number of manual transactions. The process requires substantial staffing and multiple iterations. Each manual transaction introduces additional opportunities for error and limits the ability to make information available to inform decision making. Mechanisms to improve accuracy, increase timeliness, reduce labor, and support transparency free up resources to focus on better water management strategies rather than the management of water accounting. Technologies to automate and share data online are not new, but actually applied widely throughout industry. This research proposal aims to explore the unique culture within Reclamation and relationships with our customers that have historically resulted in such tools remaining under utilized as part of our core business models. We anticipate that an online data system can improve accuracy by reducing the potential for introducing human error, providing basic automated verification tools, and allowing all parties to work off the same set of numbers. We anticipate more timely reporting and greater transparency in the management of water supplies. The Refuge Water Supply Program within the Mid-Pacific Region provides a microcosm within Reclamation to test different strategies within a well defined water user group. We believe the lessons learned will serve as a template for leveraging web technologies to other Reclamation areas and problems.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17