Watershed and River Systems Management Program--Columbia Basins Project Decision Support System (DSS)

Project ID: 621
Principal Investigator: Don Frevert
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2004 and 2005
Keywords: None

Research Question

* How can water in an extensive reservoir and distributed canal system be more effectively managed through an integrated decision support system in order to meet water demands as well as other objectives?

The answer to this question involves improved forecasts of precipitation, runoff, agricultural water demands, and riparian depletions, as well as improved modeling tools that can facilitate decisions about storage and releases in response to these forecasted demands.

Need and Benefit

Reclamation projects vary significantly in configuration. In the Columbia Basin Project, Washington, as in Yakima and other projects, Reclamation manages a vast complex of distribution canals that originate at Reclamation storage projects and deliver contracted water to individual water users from the canals. The technical issues of managing this type of system differ from managing a main river system with major diversions and main stem flow forecasts. The main challenges of managing this type of system are:

* Detailed forecasting of agriculture demands and precipitation

* Modeling capabilities that solve for reservoir releases at the headworks in response to a large number of diversion requests from distribution canals far downstream of the headworks

The modeling and forecasting tools need to be integrated in a DSS for ease of use, and a relational database is ideal for managing the vast data associated with the system. Previously, Science and Technology (S&T) Program funds have contributed to the development of a general set of DSS tools under the Watershed and River Systems management Program (WaRSMP). These tools include the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Modular Modeling System (MMS) for forecasting runoff, the evapo-transpiration (ET) Toolbox for forecasting demands, RiverWare for modeling river and reservoir operations and operational policies, and Hydrologic Database (HDB) for storing data. In addition, National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) is participating by way of development of state-of-the-art weather forecasting tools.

The Columbia Basin Project can benefit greatly by adopting these tools, but the tools lack some capabilities that are needed by this particular type of system, characterized by the extensive canal distribution network and small offline reservoirs. This proposal entails research, development and deployment of enhancements to these tools that will directly benefit the Columbia Basin Project, and also can be applied to other similar basins. This proposed project presents an excellent match for the Department of Interior's Water 2025 Program in a water deficient area. The improved DSS tools will enable the Reclamation managers to deliver water more reliably and more efficiently, to maintain and report data to stakeholders for accountability, and through efficiency, to liberate water to better meet Reclamations obligations to preserving natural systems.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17