Water Budget Estimation and Evaluation Project

Science Center Objects

A comprehensive understanding of hydrologic processes that affect streamflow is required to effectively manage water resources to meet present and future human and environmental needs. The Water Budget Estimation and Evaluation Project (WBEEP) was created to a) estimate a complete water budget and deliver performance measures, b) develop a nationally-consistent, locally-informed and stakeholder relevant hydrologic model infrastructure, and c) evaluate uncertainty of simulated and observed of water budgets. The water budget project framework provides an infrastructure for comparison within models and between simulated and observed values to improve our understanding of the interaction of water budget components towards improved estimates of water availability.

Water budget watershed illustration

Water resources management at scales ranging from local to national can benefit from a consistent, process-based watershed modeling capability. To this end, the WBEEP has built on previous work by the former National Research Program and utilizes the National Hydrologic Model (NHM) infrastructure to estimate “natural” water budget components, such as precipitation, snowmelt, soil moisture, recharge, and streamflow. In addition, the WBEEP also will incorporate estimates of three water use components (thermoelectric, irrigation, and public supply) in its modeling infrastructure.

As one step towards understanding uncertainty in the water budget, USGS conducted an analysis of the degree to which different datasets for different water budget components agree. The USGS also investigated and published a study on confidence intervals for statistically modeled streamflow. In 2019 and 2020, the USGS will explore methods for developing confidence intervals for additional water budget components.

Ongoing collaboration across agencies will ultimately improve our modeling capabilities to provide cutting edge science and tools for water managers and other stakeholders.