Field Measurement of Riparian ET, Lower Colorado River Basin -- Decommissioning and Final Data Report
Evapotranspiration (ET) from riparian and phreatophytic vegetation is an important component of reach,
sub-basin and basin-scale water budgets in the Southwest, accounting for a significant fraction of
non-agricultural ET in the region. Since 2005, Reclamation has conducted field measurements of ET and
groundwater levels at three riparian sites adjacent to the Colorado River at Cibola NWR. Measurements have been
used to quantify water use by Tamarisk, a riparian invasive species common throughout the West, and to evaluate
remote sensing-based ET algorithms.
After discussion with the Research Office, the LC Region S&T coordinator, and previous study partners on this
field effort, it was determined that the field site has fulfilled its objectives. The objectives of this proposal are
therefore to decommission the field site and to produce a final data report for this multi-year field effort. The
final data report will include a digital appendix of all data collected at this field site over the lifetime of the project.
Need and Benefit
Estimates of ET from riparian vegetation are an important input to environmental resources assessment and
management, particularly in semi-arid and arid basins in the Southwest where riparian ET is a significant
component of the water budget. Throughout the region, accurate estimates of 'the disposition of water once it is
released from [a reservoir]'--including the amount of water loss from the river and shallow aquifer via riparian
ET--is a critical in order to effectively manage river systems. In the Lower Colorado River Basin, for example, the
Lower Colorado River Accounting System (LCRAS) is used to track and manage releases from Hoover Dam. In other
basins such as the Mojave, Reclamation has used ET estimates to quantify the potential water savings from
removal of riparian invasive species such as Tamarisk and Russian Olive.
Proper decommissioning and documentation of this multi-year field site is necessary to ensure that the data
collected at this site is available to scientists, planners, and resource managers.
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