State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008CO166B
Title: Hydrologic Analysis and Process-Based Modeling for the Upper Cache la Poudre Basin
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/ 01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: 4th
Focus Categories: Hydrology, Surface Water, Water Supply
Keywords: Hydrologic modeling, Flow forecasting, Climate variability
Principal Investigators: Waskom, Reagan M. (Colorado State University); Kampf, Stephanie K
Federal Funds: $ 15,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 7,976
Abstract: The Cache la Poudre River in northeastern Colorado is a source of water for many agricultural, municipal and industrial users. As in many Colorado River basins, both current and long-term water planning in the Cache la Poudre would benefit from a thorough characterization of the hydrologic regime. The proposed research will explore techniques for building a spatially explicit hydrologic model that can be used in flow forecasting on the Cache la Poudre. The first phase of the research will use stream gage measurements, weather and SNOTEL station measurements, and satellite-derived snow cover images to explore hydrologic response in the portion of basin upstream of the mouth of the Poudre Canyon. These measurements will be used to characterize historical patterns in precipitation and temperature and relate these patterns to flow contributions in different portions of the basin. The second phase of the research will use the hydrologic analyses to inform development of a new hydrologic model that uses station and satellite-derived precipitation and temperature data to predict the spring-summer hydrograph. This model will combine the predictive strength of statistical forecasting methods with a more complete representation of the spatial variability in flow generation processes throughout the basin. Unlike most current flow forecasting methods, which give only seasonal total flow volumes, the model developed will also produce a hydrograph showing the timing and quantity of predicted flow throughout the spring and summer. The model will be designed to have the capability for testing how different climate scenarios (precipitation and temperature distributions) could affect river flow in the upper Poudre Basin. The project as a whole represents a starting piece in a longer term research trajectory on the hydrologic regime throughout the Cache la Poudre basin, and elements of the study will be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate-level classes on watershed management and modeling. The hydrologic analyses will help determine which new climate and stream gauging station locations would best inform forecasting, and the model development will lead to enhanced flow forecasting methods that can incorporate spatial satellite data into flow predictions.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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