SW CASC Researchers Collaborate with Water Managers to Assess Future Drought Impacts on Colorado River Water Supply Reliability

Jan. 5, 2021

New SW CASC funded research aims to provide meaningful data of future water supply reliability for the Upper Colorado River Basin water management community. Researchers, led by Connie Woodhouse at the University of Arizona, collaborated with this water resource management community of practice to develop plausible scenarios of future droughts in the Upper Colorado River Basin, then used these scenarios to examine future reductions in streamflow. Managers decided that future plausible droughts look similar to droughts over the past century, in terms of precipitation deficit, but with increased temperatures. Researchers used this information to develop a model to estimate streamflow with temperatures elevated by +1 °C to +4 °C, and found, on average, a reduction in average water year flow of about 6% for the +1 °C scenario to about 31% for the +4 °C scenario. To ensure results were meaningful to the water management community, the researchers couched their analyses in the context of water delivery metrics and specific vulnerable conditions. View the publication here.