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Collaborative modelling and integrated decision support system analysis of a developed terminal lake basin

January 1, 2014

A terminal lake basin in west-central Nevada, Walker Lake, has undergone drastic change over the past 90 yrs due to upstream water use for agriculture. Decreased inflows to the lake have resulted in 100 km2 decrease in lake surface area and a total loss of fisheries due to salinization. The ecologic health of Walker Lake is of great concern as the lake is a stopover point on the Pacific route for migratory birds from within and outside the United States. Stakeholders, water institutions, and scientists have engaged in collaborative modeling and the development of a decision support system that is being used to develop and analyze management change options to restore the lake. Here we use an integrated management and hydrologic model that relies on state-of-the-art simulation capabilities to evaluate the benefits of using integrated hydrologic models as components of a decision support system. Nonlinear feedbacks among climate, surface-water and groundwater exchanges, and water use present challenges for simulating realistic outcomes associated with management change. Integrated management and hydrologic modeling provides a means of simulating benefits associated with management change in the Walker River basin where drastic changes in the hydrologic landscape have taken place over the last century. Through the collaborative modeling process, stakeholder support is increasing and possibly leading to management change options that result in reductions in Walker Lake salt concentrations, as simulated by the decision support system.

Publication Year 2014
Title Collaborative modelling and integrated decision support system analysis of a developed terminal lake basin
DOI 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.05.043
Authors Richard G. Niswonger, Kip K. Allander, Anne E. Jeton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Hydrology
Index ID 70169946
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Nevada Water Science Center