Water for the Seasons

Science Center Objects

Water for the Seasons (WftS) is a four year study funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. WtfS uses the Truckee-Carson River System (TCRS) as a pilot study to learn how to best link science with decision-making in snow-fed arid-land river systems. By working collaboratively with stakeholders, WftS aims to create a model for improving community climate resiliency, or ability to adapt to extreme climatic conditions.

Visit the Water for the Seasons website

Precipitation Runoff Modeling System simulations of snowpack, rain, and streamflow in the Carson River basin, Nev.

Precipitation Runoff Modeling System simulations of snowpack, rain, and streamflow in the Carson River basin, Nev. (Public domain.)

The robustness of the TCRS water supply to future hydroclimatic conditions is unknown and the resilience of the system to extreme events and changes in land-use and economic growth needs to be established. Moreover, this project aims to assess stakeholder acceptance of alternative water policy institutional arrangements designed to enhance sustainability. By creating an integrated modeling framework designed to promote diverse stakeholder communities to collaboratively develop, with researchers, hydroclimatic models coupled with models of policy change, we will further the understanding of water management challenges common to snow-fed arid-land river systems and identify solutions with broad social acceptance for policy makers and resources managers. Through the integration of demand/supply hydroclimatic models, the utilization of collaborative modeling to engage stakeholders directly in the process of constructing climate scenarios, and a combination of collaborative and agent-based modeling to simulate stakeholder response to future hydroclimatic conditions, researchers and stakeholders will work toward a portfolio of resilient policy scenarios that will advance understanding of water sustainability in the American West. 

WftS will develop a suite of collaborative models that integrate:

  • Surface and groundwater data, evapotranspiration rates, and climate variables.
  • Reservoir storage and water release options.
  • Water use priorities under different climate scenarios.

USGS scientists are contributing to the WtfS collaborative modeling efforts by modify existing models, including

  1.  developing upon and making updates to the Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) model of the upper Carson River watershed originally developed by Jeton et al. (1996),
  2.  updating the Carson Valley model originally developed by Yager et al. (2012) using weekly time-steps instead of quarterly (3 month) time-steps,
  3.  updating operations and planning models for the Carson system using the MODSIM software package to better resolve river diversion and linkages to specific agricultural fields,
  4.  coupling MODSIM to upper and middle Carson River basin hydrology models,
  5.  developing distribution of precipitation and temperature on the landscape using projected climate at specific locations,
  6.  developing linkages between present and future development and groundwater pumping and climate,
  7.  developing mechanisms for adding and removing agricultural areas and additional diversion points/reservoirs, and
  8.  establishing linkages between the agent based model that represent behaviors of water managers and stakeholders for mimicking management decisions within the hydrology/operations models.