Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018UT209B

Improving Representation of Environmental Objectives in Systems Models to Inform Integrated Water Management Strategies

Institute: Utah
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,087 Total Non-Federal Funds: $49,584

Principal Investigators: Belize Lane, David Rosenberg, Bethany Neilson

Abstract: As both one of the driest and fast growing states in the nation, Utah faces a critical challenge to identify how limited and uncertain water resources can be more efficiently allocated to meet human and environmental water needs. Systems models are increasingly being used to evaluate environmental as well as human objectives to inform integrated water management decisions. However, the utility of systems models for these efforts is constrained by their ability to represent instream environmental water needs. 1D and 2D hydraulic models offer increasing information content relevant to quantifying environmental objectives, but also require increasing data and resources to generate. To address this scaling challenge and improve integrated human – environmental water management in Utah, we propose three study aims: (1) to perform a sensitivity analysis of the impacts of within-reach topological complexity on the quantification of environmental objectives in systems models; (2) to evaluate tradeoffs between systems, 1- and 2-D hydraulic model representations of environmental objectives and resource and data requirements; and (3) to develop a rapid tool for identifying priority additional cross-section locations to improve representation of environmental water needs. This project will apply and demonstrate application of these techniques to the Lower Bear River Basin UT using an existing systems model, with specific focus on the Blacksmith Fork River. The project will develop methods and tools to support integrated water management efforts in Utah to promote long-term river basin sustainability in the face of increasing demands and uncertain supplies.