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A review of current capabilities and science gaps in water supply data, modeling, and trends for water availability assessments in the Upper Colorado River Basin

November 23, 2022
The Colorado River is a critical water resource in the southwestern United States, supplying drinking water for 40 million people in the region and water for irrigation of 2.2 million hectares of land. Extended drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCOL) and the prospect of a warmer climate in the future pose water availability challenges for those charged with managing the river. Limited water availability in the future also may negatively affect aquatic ecosystems and wildlife that depend upon them. Water availability components of special importance in the UCOL include streamflow, salinity in groundwater and surface water, groundwater levels and storage, and the role of snow in the UCOL water cycle. This manuscript provides a review of current “state of the science” for these UCOL water availability components with a focus on identifying gaps in data, modeling, and trends in the basin. Trends provide context for evaluations of current conditions and motivation for further investigation and modeling, models allow for investigation of processes and projections of future water availability, and data support both efforts. Information summarized in this manuscript will be valuable in planning integrated assessments of water availability in the UCOL.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title A review of current capabilities and science gaps in water supply data, modeling, and trends for water availability assessments in the Upper Colorado River Basin
DOI 10.3390/w14233813
Authors Fred D. Tillman, Natalie K. Day, Matthew P. Miller, Olivia L. Miller, Christine Rumsey, Daniel Wise, Patrick Cullen Longley, Morgan C. McDonnell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water
Index ID 70238560
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Arizona Water Science Center; Southwest Biological Science Center; Utah Water Science Center