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Project ID: 2002CO2B

Title: Enhancements to the South Platte Mapping and Analysis Program (SPMAP)

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Agriculture, Groundwater, Water Use

Keywords: Agricultural consumptive use, Geographic information system, Augmentation, Conjunctive use of groundwater/surface water

Start Date: 03/01/2004

End Date: 02/28/2005

Federal Funds: $8,300

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $16,602

Congressional District: 4th

Principal Investigator:
Luis Garcia


For 2004, the CWRRI Advisory Committee for Water Research Policy identified developing scientifically sound and transparent tools for determining augmentation flows for wells pumping in the South Platte Basin as one of the top seven priorities for water knowledge. Water managers of the South Platte basin are facing competing demands for water including sustaining irrigated food production, providing high quality water to growing populations, and establishing flow conditions to protect habitats for threatened and endangered species. Since the alluvial aquifer along the South Platte can be impacted by groundwater withdrawals for irrigated agriculture and other uses, it is critical to accurately determine the timing and amounts of groundwater withdrawals. Accurate accounting of groundwater withdrawals also allows water managers to meet the challenges of new court decrees and legislation related to the South Platte. The South Platte Mapping and Analysis Program (SPMAP) has been used successfully to manage data and run models specifically designed for this problem.

The SPMAP project, which started in 1995, is a set of computer tools (SPGIS, IDS CU, and SDF View) constructed to enhance water management by matching data acquisition, system design, modeling, and user interfaces with the expressed needs of area water managers. The Lower South Platte River Basin has an extensive and complex surface and groundwater irrigation supply system, which requires the augmentation of groundwater withdrawals. In order to estimate the augmentation required for areas served by wells, the amount of groundwater used to meet consumptive use (CU) needs to be calculated (using the IDS CU model), and then the impacts of the pumping on the South Platte need to be estimated (using the Stream Depletion Factor model, SDF View). This process requires the assembly of spatial and other data from participating organizations, and the process is being enhanced by the development of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) to improve the access to available data and formulate and evaluate different scenarios.
The project to date has produced several tools that are currently being used on a daily basis by local water managers. The success of the SPMAP project is demonstrated by the response of water managers like Jon Altenhofen of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District: “With the increasing pressures to maintain and secure augmentation supplies, the computer software of SPMAP has become indispensable. It is being used by the major augmentation suppliers for accounting purposes.”

An advisory committee made up of members from the six local water organizations meets every couple of months to evaluate existing computer tools, identify enhancements needed for the models, and provide training on tools. Over the past eight years, the Integrated Decision Support Group (IDS) has developed software and assembled data according to input from water organizations. Software and data are documented through hard-copy and online user manuals distributed through an Internet site ( except in certain situations where data are proprietary. The SPMAP software currently contains three components including Geographic Information System data and analysis tools (SPGIS Component), the Integrated Decision Support Consumptive Use Model (IDS CU), and a Stream Depletion Factor Model (SDF View). These components will continue to be improved through testing and application by local water organizations, enhancements to functionality, and updating and addition of data needed for modeling and analysis of irrigated agricultural water use in the Lower South Platte River Basin.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Tuesday July 12, 2005 2:53 PM
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