Watershed and River Systems Management Program--Truckee River Basin Decision Support System (DSS)

Project ID: 664
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 highly complex water ownership, usage, and operating policies be represented in modeling and analysis tools and integrated into an operational DSS (using state-of-the-art science and technologies) to provide the critical information required for operating the Truckee Basin under existing conditions and preparing to liberate more water under the post-Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) constraints for all identified objectives?

* Building on tools developed from previous Science and Technology (S&T) Program research projects, what new and innovative techniques can be used to model and visualize water ownership and usage categories, to facilitate expression of complex operating policies and to improve flow forecasts.

* How can the enhancements be developed and maintained by cost-sharing among Reclamation, its partners, stakeholders?

Need and Benefit

The Truckee-Carson is one of the most contentious basins in the Western United States and an area of emphasis for the Department's Water 2025 Program. For more than 10 years, the Lahonton Basin Area Office (LBAO) and stakeholders have attempted to work out a mutually agreeable policy to satisfy competing water needs including agriculture, municipal and industrial (M&I), hydropower, preserving endangered species, satisfying Native American water rights and accurate apportionment of the limited water supply among the states of California and Nevada as well as the stakeholders in each state. The negotiating parties have completed a draft agreement, the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA). An Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the agreement is expected to be finalized in fiscal year (FY) 2004. In order to analyze, evaluate, and implement policies in this highly complicated system of water ownership and uses, Reclamation needs a powerful, detailed and flexible modeling tool.

Existing tools are inadequate for these purposes. New generalized modeling and software technologies in RiverWare, developed under the S&T Watershed and River Systems Management Program (WaRSMP), have succeeded in modeling the basin's current water ownership, usage, and operating policies by applying state-of-the-art programming and modeling approaches. However, the yet-to-be-implemented long-term planning model with current policies, and suite of accounting, forecasting, and planning models with the new TROA policies will be significantly more complicated--in fact, much more complex than policies in other basins that use the WaRSMP tools (e.g., Upper Rio Grande, Colorado River).

The LBAO has determined that additional enhancements to the policy expression and visualization tools for the water ownership network are critical to development of these final models. Further, Reclamation's lawyers have already anticipated the need for the TROA policy model during post-EIS litigation and have urged LBAO to develop it as soon as possible. Solutions for these new modeling challenges are proposed under this project. They will be deployed first in the LBAO models but can also be used by other Reclamation basins with complex policy requirements. In order to plan and evaluate policies, the decision support tools must be able to anticipate the range of hydrologic scenarios that may be encountered in the future. Hence, this proposal also includes an extension of WaRSMPs ET Toolbox, application of the Stochastic Analysis Modeling System (SAMS), and linkage of policy models with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Modular Modeling System (MMS).

The final integration of these research products, deployed in the Truckee Carson DSS, will achieve the research goals. The use of these research products by LBAO will result in improved decision-making, leading to more efficient and economical management of water resources in the Truckee-Carson Basin. It is reasonable to expect that more than 10, 000 acre-feet per year of additional water could be liberated as a result of deployment of this DSS. Additional savings will be realized in facilitating analysis of the EIS outcomes during future litigation, and in avoiding the cost of future tool development for Truckee applications as well as other basin decision support applications.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact research@usbr.gov about research products related to this project.

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Last Updated: 4/4/17