WaterSMART Basin Studies

Basin Studies are collaborative studies, cost-shared with non-Federal partners, to evaluate water supply and demand and help ensure reliable water supplies by identifying strategies to address imbalances in water supply and demand. Each study includes four key elements:

  • State-of-the-art projections of future supply and demand by river basin.
  • An analysis of how the basin’s existing water and power operations and infrastructure will perform in the face of changing water realities.
  • Development of strategies to meet current and future water demands.
  • A trade-off analysis of strategies identified.



The two-step selection process and the criteria for selecting Basin Studies are described detail in the Basin Studies – Selection Process Overview. In brief, the two-step selection process is as follows:

Step 1 – Letters of Interest: Reclamation's regional offices will seek letters of interest from states and major stakeholders throughout the 17 Western States. All non-Federal entities interested in cost-sharing with Reclamation to conduct a Basin Study will be required to prepare and submit a letter of interest to their regional Reclamation office. The regional offices will review the letters and notify the non-Federal study proponents whether their study concepts will proceed to Step 2 of the selection process.

Step 2 – Study Proposal: The regional office will work with those selected in Step 1 to develop a short (20 pages maximum) study proposal for consideration by a Reclamation Application Review Committee (ARC). The ARC will be made up of staff from across Reclamation with technical expertise relevant to the Basin Study process. The ARC will prioritize the proposals based on the selection criteria established in the Basin Studies Directives and Standards (WTR TRMR-65). Selections will be announced in a news release and all applicants will be notified individually of the outcome of the review process.


  • Reclamation provides $1.8 million for comprehensive water study in American Samoa

    The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the American Samoa Power Authority, is making $1.8 million available to conduct a basin study on the American Samoa island Tutuila. American Samoa is facing challenges related to climate change, water distribution system losses, and reliance on freshwater aquifers, which are susceptible to saltwater intrusion. Read More →

  • Reclamation Announces Upper Red River Basin Study Complete

    North fork Red River downstream of Lugert-Altus Reservoir.The Bureau of Reclamation released the Upper Red River Basin Study report outlining the findings of a seven-year comprehensive study of the upper reaches of the Red River in Oklahoma. The report identifies a range of operational, administrative, and legal strategies that could address water supply imbalances as well as strategies to develop supplemental water supplies. Read More →

    The report is available on Reclamation's Basin Study website.

  • Reclamation releases West Salt River Basin Study

    CAP Canal in Phoenix, AZ.The study indicates the demand for water in the area will increase over time,and without new supplies, imbalances between renewable supply and demand will also grow. This study will help water managers determine water resource management priorities and investments in the future. Reclamation partnered with the West Valley Water Association to complete the study. The report is available on Reclamation's Basin Study website.

Last Update:  7/16/24