Andrea J. Ray
Climate Change in Colorado: Developing a Science Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management Adaptation The State of ColoradoÕs Climate Action Plan sets out a goal to prepare the state to adapt to those climate changes Òthat cannot be avoided,Ó and recommends assessing the vulnerability of Colorado's water resources to climate change, analyzing impacts on interstate water compacts, and planning for extreme events such as drought and flooding (CCAP 2007). The NOAA Ð University of Colorado Western Water Assessment, a Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (RISA) program, recently completed a report synthesizing the science on climate change. ÒClimate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation,Ó is aimed at planners, decisionmakers, and policymakers to support the stateÕs water adaptation efforts. This presentation focuses on the process of developing the report, our key communication goals, and the choices and challenges we faced in developing this synthesis for decisionmakers, and engaging professional stakeholders in framing and developing the report based on their decision processes and needs. A significant challenge was how to ÒdownscaleÓ information for Colorado. We also took advantage of the IPCC Fourth Assessment and the very new Climate Change Science Program Assessments. However, although many published studies and datasets include information about Colorado, few climate studies that focus only on the state. Colorado-specific information is often imbedded in or averaged with studies of the larger Western U.S. To develop information at an appropriate scale, we used findings from peer-reviewed regional studies, and conducted new analyses derived from existing datasets and model projections, and took advantage of new regional analyses. The report is intended to raise climate literacy of our audience about climate and how climate science is done. For example, a primer on climate models and theory situates Colorado in the context of global climate change and describes how features such as complex topography relate to interpreting and using climate change projections. Water managers have a history of adapting to changes in economies and land use, environmental concerns, and population growth. However, current practices may not be robust enough to cope with climate change. This report is a step in establishing Colorado's water-related adaptation needs; it responds to the needs of Colorado state agencies and water management community to evaluate impacts on Colorado's water resources and better understand risks. This report is also an experiment in climate services for climate change information and exploring the challenges of communicating the information to a diverse audience of decisionmakers.
The recent multi-year drought in the Colorado River basin has resulted in deficits in Lakes Powell and Mead. As of August 2006, current storage in Lake Powell, the massive 27 million acre-feet (MAF) impoundment formed by Glen Canyon Dam is 12.3 million acre-feet or about 50 percent of live storage. Projected unregulated inflow to Lake Powell for water year 2006 is 8.78 maf, or 73 percent of average. Typically, the storage capacity on the river provides ample protection against drought shortages, but declining reservoir levels are raising the prospect that the states of the Upper Basin (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico) may soon be required to cease water diversions that are junior to the 1922 Colorado Compact in order to meet obligations to downstream users. A 1995 study, the Colorado Severe Sustained Drought Study (SSD, ), looked at the impact of a 35-year drought. However, recent conditions show that even a 5-7 year drought can have a significant impact on the system, and reveals critical challenges in policy implementation in the Colorado Basin.
In a study revisiting and updating the general assumptions, themes and findings of the SSD study, we find that three changes to the system over the last decade have change the systemÕs vulnerability to climate: (1) the sociopolitical, legal and demographic context of the region has evolved rapidly, especially in the Lower Basin; (2) new water projects and management regimes have been implemented; and (3) there is currently a much more advanced understanding of the climate system-past, present, and future-including the potential impacts of climate change and shorter drought periods on water management that were not included in the original investigation. The overarching issue to be addressed in the proposed work is to understand how the changing context of the region has introduced criticality for water management with respect to shortages due to increasing demand and shortages related to climate variability and change.
In addition to implementation of current policies, the drought suggests that planning and policy development in the basin must consider potential future climate scenarios, including multi-year droughts and the effects of increased temperatures. Two examples are the developing Òshortage sharing agreement,Ó and the Environmental Impact Statement for the Aspinall Unit on the Gunnison River. This presentation will discuss the 2006-2007 policy landscape with respect to the Colorado River. We will also discuss needs for climate products that can aid the increasingly difficult and urgent water resource decision-making processes in the Colorado basin.
Development of user-centric products requires the linking of identified user needs with research on forecast tools. This presentation will describe the process of integrating two lines of research that began in parallel: assessments of the needs of reservoir managers at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), and research to improve medium-range weather forecasting (also known as intraseasonal forecasts). Based on interviews, decision process analysis, and participant-observation, user studies of USBR Lower Colorado River management identified substantial needs for information on longer-term weather forecasts as well as seasonal climate. These needs relate to management objectives in the lower Colorado River basin including goals to maximize storage in lower Colorado River Reservoirs; balancing flood control and storage criteria; improving planning for releases for irrigation given the influence of temperature anomalies on demand; and to carry out other USBR goals such as environmental releases. The user assessment found that intra-seasonal forecast information may be useful throughout the water year, as reservoir planning and management adjusts to both observed and forecasted conditions of winter snow accumulation, spring runoff, warm-season irrigation, and municipal and industrial uses all year. At each stage in planning, anomalous intra-seasonal temperature or precipitation conditions may significantly influence storage and releases planned, often affecting planning for many months in the future. Recently, forecast techniques have been developed that dramatically improve the skill of probabilistic weather forecasts during week 1 (Hamill et al. 2005) as well as improvements in week 2. These products are based on a 25-year reforecast database developed at NOAA/ESRL and used to demonstrate how a current numerical intra-seasonal forecast could be statistically calibrated using the reforecasts (Hamill et al. 2004). The resulting products include forecasts of temperature, precipitation, and other variables that are presented as maps of tercile probability and analog probability forecasts of precipitation downscaled to 32 km resolution. The ESRL technique now is synthesized into the CPC operational product and the tercile probability forecasts run operationally at the NOAA National Weather Service. However, these forecasts are not yet in formats appropriate to many potential users. We are working with the USBR Lower Colorado Office (LCO) as pilot case for developing of these products for a broader community of water managers in the U.S. West through its operations. Because USBR/LCO reservoir management challenges and goals are similar in many ways to other large-scale reservoir management across the West, the results on usability of the products are likely to be transferable to other areas. The USBR also works closely with a large number of its own stakeholders in reservoir management, so developing products that support these interactions will provide insight into the needs of a broader community of water managers. This presentation will describe the efforts to work with the USBR to improve the useability of these products for their Lower Colorado operations, by reducing complexity and improving the accessibility of the forecasts.
In many places in the west, management of water is becoming more intense because systems are because new demands for water are being incorporated into the system, including in-stream flows for ecosystems and recreation. As a result, there is less buffer in the system, and the systems are increasingly sensitive to climate variability and change, more so than when originally designed. Hydro-climatic forecasts are viewed by many as a way to mitigate risks of scarcity by improving forecasts of supply and/or demand, and improving efficiency of use in response to the forecast.
This talk will explore the interaction of climate variability and change with water management in this intensifying water management context, and the potential role for climate information and forecasts in mitigating climate risks in operations and longer-term planning. The combination of increasing climate sensitivity and changing water management polices requires both appropriate hydro-climatic forecasts and also institutions that are able to be adaptive to cope with both anticipated changes and those which are difficult to predict. Characteristics of water management institutions that are likely to be able to cope with the changing policy and climate regimes will be discussed from a case study of the Gunnison basin of western Colorado. The recent history of operations in the basin, including responses to the severe drought of 2002, show that water management institutions in the Gunnison basin have significant adaptive capacity to respond to both policy changes and climate events, and also the capacity to respond to climate forecasts if the appropriate forecasts are available.
Hydro-climate forecasts and other information also have the potential to mitigate risks in longer term planning. For example, planning is underway to "re-operate" USBR reservoirs in the Gunnison basin in order to meet flow needs for four endangered native fishes of the Colorado River, under the Endangered Species Act. Changes to the reservoir operations are considered critical to recovery of the fish, and new operating procedures are likely to be in place for many years, after complete under an Environmental Impact Statement process with will take several years. Climate variability and change have potentially serious implications for meeting the needs of the fish as well as the other authorized purposes of the reservoirs. Some aspects of climate that may challenge the new operating polices are: 1) The effects of multi-year droughts, e.g., periods of 3-7 years of below average snow water equivalent (SWE) and inflows; 2) The effects of decadal-scale periods in which average inflows are below normal, although there may be wet years interspersed; 3) the potential impact of a long-term decrease in reservoir inflows, due to decreases in precipitation and SWE; 3) the potential impact of an earlier spring peak; 4) the opportunity to take advantage of forecasting interannual climate variability to improve the efficiency of reservoir management, both in wet and dry years; 5) the possibility of adaptive management with respect to the effects of climate on water as new understanding about the climate of the region becomes available. These areas of sensitivity suggest areas for research that can mitigate risks of shortage in operational decision-making, but which will also mitigate risks in planning the new operations of the USBR reservoirs on the Gunnison River.
As in many other areas in the West, the Gunnison basin is increasingly sensitive to climate variability because new demands for water are being incorporated into the system, including in-stream flows for ecosystems and recreation. Some of the implications of climate variability and change for water management in the 21st century are: _ The effects of multi-year droughts, e.g., periods of 3-7 years of below average snow water equivalent (SWE) and inflows; _ The effects of decadal-scale periods in which average inflows are below normal, although there may be wet years interspersed; _ The potential impact of a long-term decrease in Aspinall inflows, due to decreases in precipitation and SWE; _ The potential impact of an earlier spring peak; _ The opportunity to take advantage of forecasting interannual climate variability to improve the efficiency of reservoir management, both in wet and dry years; _ The possibility of adaptive management with respect to the effects of climate on water as new understanding about the climate of the region becomes available.
The combination of increasing climate sensitivity and changing polices requires institutions that are able to be adaptive to cope with both anticipated changes and those which are difficult to predict. Characteristics of water management institutions that are likely to be able to cope with the changing policy and climate regimes will be discussed. Operations in this system have been adjusted for many reasons to benefit the basin, for example, managers have responded to both the flow recommendations for endangered fish and the severe drought of 2002 by finding flexibility and new ways of operating to benefit a diverse set of water uses. Water management institutions in the Gunnison basin have significant adaptive capacity to respond to both policy changes and climate events, and also the capacity to respond to climate forecasts if the appropriate forecasts are available.
Many society-relevant problems are sensitive to the North American Monsoon system and its variability: drought, water supply, fire, health, and agriculture. The monsoon region is well-defined in a physical sense: catchments in the core monsoon region have maximum precipitation and runoff during July-October. But many human regions overlap this physical region: the U.S.-Mexico border bisects it, it includes large urban complexes and vast areas of arid to semi-arid open space, and the institutional and political settings across the region result in a patchwork of sensitivities and capacity to respond to the physical system and to forecasts about it.
The international North American Monsoon Experiment, (www.joss.ucar.edu/name aims to determine the predictability of warm season precipitation over this region. NAME also seeks to interact with applications and human dimensions researchers on the potential use of monsoon science. A recent workshop identified four areas for problem-oriented, place-based research in the region: fire, ecosystem management, integrated water management, and dryland/rainfed systems, and noted the importance of monsoon variability in many U.S.- Mexico border issues.
This talk will discuss ways in which geographers can contribute to understanding the interaction of monsoon and society. Geographers can also contribute to understanding how understanding its variability may be used by institutions and individuals seeking to cope with the anticipated growth trends and increasing ecological stresses across the region. For example, what are current ways in which people have adjusted/adapted to monsoon variability? In what ways might people respond to forecasts in the diverse social contexts within the physical region?
The extremely dry water year of October 2001-September 2002 in Colorado provided an impetus for potential users to consider applications of weather and climate information, and revealed needs for climate services. We conducted a number of rapid response activities, such as providing climate information to reservoir managers and the Colorado Water Availability Task Force, and complementing ongoing user studies. We documented reactions of our user-partners to available information, both official forecasts and experimental products, and also determined what products were needed that were not available. On one level, our activities were more successful than we imagined. Their interest increased in gaining access to climate information, and many users enhanced their knowledge about climate and drought. Some users began to ask for climate forecasts and information regularly; for example, a climate briefing became an important part of the Colorado Drought Task Force Meeting, and also at key meetings of reservoir managers.
However, the drought response was less successful in terms of being able to provide climate products at the regional to local spatial scales at which many decisions are made (such as river basins and other management units). Furthermore, we observed a number of other unmet needs for information, beyond outlooks or forecasts, related to regional climatology and typical seasonal cycles. This talk will discuss the feedback we got from our user-partners regarding existing products, and the other kinds of information that they asked for.
In our conversations with potential users, many were interested in information on the history of climate, not just forecasts. The information at the spatial and temporal scales they seek was not readily available. As the driest of several average to dry years in 1998-2003 in Colorado, many water managers with longer term planning horizons began to ask questions about return periods of drought and the statistical likelihood of persistence of several dry years. Others with more immediate operational concerns were interested in the statistical likelihood of another dry year (vs. the forecast), based on the paleoclimate record. For both planning and operational purposes, Colorado water managers with resources on both sides of the continental divide were interested in how often both areas have been dry in history; WY 2002 was thought to be unusual in that both sides of the Divide were dry. We also observed a number of adjustments to drought that were undertaken by managers which did not consider climate information or forecasts, such as not calling for senior water rights, leases for water, and adjustments to maintain environmental flows. These adjustments allowed us to infer the kinds of information that might have been used if available. This information might have enabled earlier agreements and more efficient use of scarce water.
Feedback on existing products allows us to draw some conclusions about how NOAA climate information and products might be adapted to better suit this large group of users. Forecast and monitoring products generally are not available at the scales that decisions are made, but this problem goes beyond downscaling from a grid box, to understanding the user s scales of decisions and how management decisions relate to larger scales.
Overall, the rapid response activities increased the interest in climate information. However, the drought year was a missed opportunity to capitalize on the increased interest to provide prototype climate services to these users. Enhanced or new information was not available to support decisions that had to be made in an operational time frame, and will have to be made in the next Western drought.
In designing a place-based, empirical study of the potential use of climate information in reservoir management, a number of geographical concepts have provided insight. In the Upper Colorado basin, a key natural resource issue is the recovery of endangered native fish, and changing the operation of reservoirs to support the recovery instead of continuing the problem. The issue is a case of learning how to address complex problems surrounding multiple resources in a bioregion — and is a legacy of the river basin studies and planning pioneered by geographers earlier in this century. Water resources geography offers the idea of "range of choice," in actions available to managers, i.e., the Department of Interior now seeks to expand their "choice of use" of water to include ecosystem needs. Perception studies offer heuristics on how people perceive climate variability and risks of drought. The climate and society literature offers ideas on adjustment and adaptation and related concepts of vulnerability and resiliency. Climate variability may affect the implementation of environmental policies that are dependant on water supply -- such as species recovery– and thus, the policies may be vulnerable to climate. Currently, droughts, or shortages are generally considered "surprises," another concept in geography. The insight is that droughts should not be unexpected themselves, but the surprise is when and where they occur. Policies which are vulnerable to climate variability (e.g. shortage during drought) could be made less so by acknowledging that shortages might occur, developing plans and response capabilities for when it does. Keyword:water resources, environmental policy, climate variability
Reservoir operating plans for the spring and summer in the interior western United States are currently based on January 1 observed snowpack and historical information, which are incorporated into operational river flow forecasts produced by the NOAA RFCs, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and some reservoir operators themselves. However, these forecasts (outlooks??) do not include information on how the snowpack evolution over the winter is influenced by ENSO. Specifically, we are interested if the current forecasts of water supply can be improved upon by including information on seasonal variations in ENSO-snowpack associations. By doing this, we hope to help improve operational river forecast products.
Improvements in the early outlooks of evolution of the snowpack, total steamflow, and in the likely hydrograph could enable reservoir managers to make decisions to optimize the amount of water available, both in wet and dry years. In years with anticipated high runoff managers need to maintain space in the reservoirs to guard against flooding, whereas in low water years managers need to retain as much water as possible to meet the needs of irrigation, hydro-power generation, domestic consumption and recreation They could take advantage of a wet year by providing spring peak flows for endangered fish, for example, without jeopardizing later season water uses such as irrigation and hydropower. Or in a year that is ultimately dry, they might avoid early releases to create space for spring flood control that later are unnecessary. Recognizing these concerns, it is important to identify methods for predicting water supply.
Although the snow already accumulated in mid-winter can provide a useful proxy for water supply during spring and summer, another potential source of predictability is historical and predicted influences of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) on snow accumulation and subsequent runoff. While general ENSO-snowpack associations at the time of peak accumulation have been examined by other investigators, many of these signals are indirectly included in the January 1 snowpack, and as such may not result in any improvements in forecasts based on snowpack information alone. Given the practical need for developing operating plans in January for the following several months, the questions we pose in this study are 1) how do the ENSO-snowpack signals change from mid- winter through to the end of the accumulation season, and 2) can such seasonal changes be understood on the basis of the dynamical response of atmospheric circulation to tropical sea surface temperature variations. Specifically, we are interested if forecasts of water supply in spring and summer based on snowpack information alone can be improved upon by including information on seasonal variations in ENSO-snowpack associations.
To address these issues, SWE data measured at several hundred montane sites in thewestern United States are used to examine the historic effects of El Nino and La Nina events on seasonal snowpack evolution in the major sub-basins in the Columbia and Colorado River systems. In the Columbia River Basin, there is a general tendency for decreased SWE during El Nino years and increased SWE in La Nina years. However, the SWE anomalies for El Nino years are much less pronounced. This occurs in part because mid-latitude circulation anomalies in El Nino years are located 35o east of those in La Nina years. This eastward shift is most evident in mid-winter, at which time SWE amomalies associated with El Nino are actually positive in coastal regions of the Columbia River basin. In the Colorado River basin, mean anomalies in SWE and annual runoff during El Nino years depict a transition between drier-than-average conditions in the north, and wetter- than-average conditions in the southwest. Associations during La Nina years are generally opposite those in El Nino years. SWE anomalies tend to be more pronounced in spring in the Lower Colorado River basin. Our predictions of runoff reveal modest skill for scenarios using only historic El Nino and La Nina information. Predictions based on the water stored in the seasonal snowpack are, in almost all cases, much higher than those based on ENSO information alone. However, combining observed mid-winter snow conditions with information on seasonal snowpack evolution associated with ENSO improves predictions for basins in which ENSO signals exhibit strong seasonality. Dynamical explanations for our historical analysis of ENSO-snowpack associations provides confidence that our results are not simply statistical artifacts, and that they may be used to improve operational water supply outlooks.
The implementation of a national climate service will require the regular and systematic communication of climate information to users. There are a number of barriers to use of the climate information currently available, among them, the timing of the forecast, the need for locally specific information or other kinds of information, and need for procedures to incorporate climate information in decisions (c.f., Pulwarty and Redmond, 1997; Stern, 1999; Chagnon 2000). We are conducting a systematic effort to effectively remove some of these barriers by providing focused climate information that address users' needs for reservoir management in the Interior West. This effort is an example of pilot or prototype implementation of climate services. In addition, we are interviewing users to determine their climate information needs and current uses. Finally, we are observing how the information is used in decisions. We anticipate that implementation of climate services on a national scale will be improved by first conducting prototype activities on a regional scale, focused on users who are susceptible to climate variations and who are willing to work in a partnership to help design effective information systems for information useful to them. This study is part of the NOAA/Univ. of Colorado Western Water Assessment as well as the Climate Diagnostic Center's activities as a NOAA Applied Research Center.
This effort focuses on the potential for climate information to improve reservoir management decisions, e.g., annual reservoir operating plans, and providing water for specific goals. In contrast to the frequently used sector focus, we are using a problem-oriented approach to identify issues which are sensitive to climate variability, the decision processes which are associated with these issues, and thus the users to target and their demands for information. Reservoir managers in the Interior West are currently faced with providing water for new uses (in stream flows, recreation) while still meeting the needs of traditional rights holders. Several legal mandates could require changes in water distribution unless another way is found to meet an increasing number of multiple uses. A better use of climate information represents one tool for reservoir mangers to meet these uses while minimizing conflicts. Our approach relies on direct interaction with regional reservoir managers. We are building on several years of CDC interaction with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which began with providing climate input for the management of Glen Canyon Dam/Lake Powell during the 1997/98 El Niño. That year, managers were concerned about the potential for high runoff (see Pulwarty and Melis, 2000). Our interactions over the past year with water managers have revealed a number of key decision points for which both forecasts and historical relationships of ENSO and local conditions which might be useful, i.e., the demand for climate information. Based on this information, we have expended a calendar of climate information needs relating to these decision points in reservoir management. Our presentation will focus on the calendar of climate information needs, as well as an assessment of the potential uses of climate information to improve reservoir operations decisions in the face of climate variability, and how reservoir managers use currently available forecasts.
This poster describes three user studies in the Interior West. These activities contribute immediately useful results for the design and provision of climate products, and thus to the implementation of a national climate service, by developing an understanding the current uses of climate information, limits on use, and preferences of some potential users. One aspect of these efforts is to provide services in a pilot mode, evaluate their usefulness, and provide feed back to climate scientists on needs and preferences.
Two studies are part of the NOAA-funded Western Water Assessment (WWA). A collaborative, interactive effort with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is determining how climate information might be used in their reservoir operations. Building on CDC's interactions with USBR begun 4 years ago during the 1997-98 El Niño, it involves direct participation in planning for reservoir operations. A second WWA project is conducting repeated interviews with public and private sector individuals to determine sensitivities and vulnerabilities to hydroclimatic variation, the decisions these water users make, and how climate information is or could be used.
The third project, funded separately by NOAA, focuses on the Colorado River drainage in Utah, the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico, and the lower Arkansas in Colorado, and interaction with the Pueblo, Navajo, Zuni, Ute Mountain and Southern Ute Tribes. Interviews and field inquiries follow the hierarchy of water management from State Engineers, USBR, and the Army Corps of Engineers through the distribution management chain to local water users such as the ditch and canal companies that hold irrigation rights. Native American water interests are of increasing importance to their own and others' economic development. This project was designed to encompass cultural variation in the different peoples and places compared, but results indicate that this has less of an effect than it might have in the past.
Three elements are common among the studies. The studies consider current as well as potential uses of information. Second, they learn from the users about what is wanted and when, as well as how this relates to specific decisions. A focus on decision processes has been adopted from policy sciences, and the concept of annual cycle of decision-making has been adopted from traditional ethnography. Third, these studies are iterative and interactive processes, e.g., the "three states" study includes the reporting initial findings to NOAA collaborators, redesigning experimental climate information products, and revisiting the informants for their critique of these.
Three major results are: mutual education between the researchers and users has suggested ways to improve how forecasts and information are provided. Second, the concept of the decision calendar has led to useful insights about climate information desired by farmers and ranchers, for instance, who are not often contacted for their views. Third, there have been some valuable surprises: e.g., some rural areas have poor connection to the Internet, and even weather radio. Also, agricultural users are interested in climate forecasts for competitors areas. The response to NOAA's interest in learning from information users has been very positive.
Across the Interior West, changing societal values and natural resource policies are creating increased demand for in-stream flows for environmental sustainability and for recreation. This dissertation focuses on the Gunnison River basin in western Colorado, and the management of the USBR Aspinall Unit, which is changing to meet the needs of the Upper Colorado River Recovery Implementation Plan for Endangered Fish, a federal reserved water right for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, while still meeting its original purposes including water for farming and ranching dating to the late 19th century. Reservoirs are a keystone of these critical water issues because in meeting their original goals they have changed the natural hydrograph and adversely affected ecosystems, but they also have the potential to be part of the solution for restoring these ecosystems. As reservoir managers seek to meet multiple and expanding purposes, water use and management is intensifying to meet water demands that were unforeseen in original water project planning. At the same time, two realities are becoming evident: an increasing sensitivity to climate variability because there is little buffer left in the system, and the interdependence of both water uses and users. With respect to climate variability, a decision analysis of current reservoir management synthesized with new demands finds that there are entry points for climate forecasts and information which might allow managers to plan for water allocation in dry periods or to take advantage of wet periods to satisfy more uses. However, climate forecasts and information are generally not available in a manner to be useable in this context. Given the interdependent and multi-agency nature of the water problems, institutions in the basin need the capacity to manage intensification and interdependence of water uses. Institutions in this basin have a high degree of adaptive capacity to cope with changing policies as well as to climate conditions. The conclusion considers the implications of the study for multi-purpose reservoir management in this and other basins, and implications for the development of climate services..
CDC is involved in experimental implementation of climate services on several fronts, including the NOAA-University of Colorado Western Water Assessment, collaboration with the Southwest Climate Assessment (CLIMAS) at University of Arizona, and providing forecasts and information to the "3 States" project funded by OGP/Human Dimensions, which is studying the use of forecasts. Direct interaction with water managers is a feature of all of these, and builds on several years of interactions with US Bureau of Reclamation, including providing climate input for the management of Glen Canyon Dam/Lake Powell during the 97/98 El Niño. Recent activities have also included workshops with water managers and their stakeholders (those with a "stake," or interest in the decisions of water managers); regular attendance at the Colorado Drought Task Force Meetings and the operations meetings for several reservoirs; and development of a "Forecast Discussion," for the Upper Colorado Basin, which presents and explains both official and experimental forecasts and research results significant to the region.
Three perspectives on climate services from this work are:
1) It is important to understand the focus of attention of the water managers, i.e., the issues currently of concern to them, and to provide both forecasts and information (e.g. historical analyses, research results) which are relevant to these issues or management problems. These current management issues can be a window of opportunity in which managers may be willing to learn about and try new tools, such as climate forecasts. For example, Upper Colorado Reservoir managers are trying to provide water for the recovery program for endangered fish, and are thus interested in certain kinds of climate information related to river flows in order to make operations decisions related to that goal.
2) Users needs can be organized in terms of a calendar of the annual cycle of their decisions. This calendar identifies the times when key decisions must be made. In the experimental implementation of climate services, this calendar can help determine what and when information and forecasts are needed by different kinds of users. We have found that many of the users we talk to are interested in forecasts at a longer lead time even if these do not have as much skill or confidence. Coupled with information on risks of various conditions during a La Niña or El Niño, they might decide to act conservatively if there is a high risk of dry conditions, even though the long-lead forecast does not have high skill. We are working to fill out this "calendar" and will use it to guide priorities in producing climate information.
3) It has been successful to work as partners with users, not just viewing them as an endpoint in a linear process. We feel that our fall workshop with Colorado reservoir managers was successful partly because it was cosponsored and co-planned by Denver Water and the Colorado River Water Conservation District, based on a topic of concern to them (managing water to provide flows for endangered fish); and they invited many of the participants.
Upcoming plans include working with the Univ. of Arizona to provide information to potential users sensitive to the current La Niña-related precipitation deficit in the Southwest, which is expected to continue. These users groups include fire managers, dryland farmers and ranchers, several native American tribes interested in integrative natural resource management, and the activities of the New Mexico and Arizona Drought Task Forces.
At a time in which water in the interior U.S. West is often fully allocated for consumptive uses, it is a challenge to maintain instream flows and timing of these flows to meet ecosystem management goals. However, policies to implement ecosystem protection are particularly vulnerable to water shortage, and the implications of climate variability are not being considered in a number of environmental policies which depend on water. These include the recovery implementation plans for endangered species, National Park Service and National Forest Service ecosystem management policies, and quantification of federal reserved rights for flows. Furthermore, seasonal climate information might be used proactively in the management of water to meet ecosystem goals. This presentation reports on an ongoing case study in the Upper Colorado basin to assess the potential for climate information to be useful in managing water resources. The project involves workshops to present and discuss climate information based on NOAA forecasts and outlooks; interviews with water managers to determine what they know about forecasts, if and how they are use forecasts in their operations, and barriers to use of the information; and an analysis of water management policies and practices in the basin.
Water allocations in the interior west are relatively inflexible, limiting the potential to change or reallocate uses based in evolving values, and this condition can be exacerbated during times of shortage. The region is also vulnerable to drought hazards and to the extent that climate change may alter the hydrological cycle and make drought and diminished flow conditions more likely, we are vulnerable to climate change. However, climate implications are not being considered in a number of water management policies surveyed, and the policies to implement ecosytems protection are particularly vulnerable to water shortage. This paper will address how climate information might be better used in an integrated approach to multiple critical water problems, thus reducing our vulnerability to potential impacts of climate change and long term drought. Several policy alternatives are evaluated and a case study of policies in place in the Gunnison Basin is described.
Climate change scenarios generally predict that the intermountain West and Colorado River are likely to have less water and changes in variability. This work seeks to understand whether Colorado Basin water management institutions will be able to cope with these changes in their operations. Capacity to deal with changes is assessed by looking at response to current critical water resource issues (Indian water rights and in stream flows) and the potential to handle a severe sustained drought. If institutions have the capacity to incorporate new information and to develop new operating strategies and flexible policies to handle these situations, then they are likely to be able to respond to the uncertain implications of climate change.
Interviews and archival analysis are used to look at whether water management institutions on the Colorado have these capacities, and if not, whether it seems that they have the institutional characteristics to do so, based on their responses to other critical water resource problems. The research strategy includes case studies of ongoing projects and projects under development to determine how they are incorporating environmental and equity needs and the risk of long term drought; and whether their response tends to improve their ability to solve water allocation problems. By analogy, the capability to engage in solving current critical water problems indicates a capability to cope with global warming scenarios.
Water resources in the West are faced with both increasing traditional demands and newer environmental needs and Indian water rights. Current legal and institutional frameworksdon't readily allow flexible policies to accommodate or reallocate water based on current societalneeds and values. A mechanism is needed for diverse stakeholder groups to discuss andreconcile the conflicting values and to achieve common visions for water uses. New water communities in the form of watershed fora may be able to serve this role.
Development studies focused on the third world offer theories on how interactions within civil society and between it and the state can improve human welfare, including allocation ofresources. This paper considers these theories to assess the potential of watershed fora in the Colorado Basin to act as a mechanism to resolve conflicts and achieve a common vision on wateruses and allocation. In particular, a gap is noted in water communities between the "nationalcommunity" debates on resources taking place in Congress, federal agencies, and thenational-level non-governmental community, and the watershed communities at the tributary basin and smaller levels. Between these scales is a critical intermediate scale at which watermarketing and interbasin transfers are likely to be major issues, but there is no intermediate-scale community for dialogue.