Project

Project Description

Title
Conservation of surface and ground water in a Western watershed experiencing rapid loss of irrigated agricultural land to development
Director
Rob Van Kirk, Associate Professor of Statistics, Humboldt State University
Partners
Humboldt State University, Henry's Fork Foundation, Fremont-Madison Irrigation District, Friends of the Teton River
Project Duration
Three calendar years: 2009-2011
Progress Reports
2011 Progress Report (pdf)
2010 Progress Report (pdf)
2009 Progress Report (pdf)

Project Abstract

Rural watersheds throughout the West are experiencing rapid replacement of irrigated agricultural land with suburban, exurban, and resort development, resulting in increased water demand and alteration of traditional irrigation practices. Furthermore, changes in water withdrawal, conveyance and use have altered ground-surface water interactions, exacerbating conflicts among users. To achieve NIWQP watershed-scale objectives to develop water conservation strategies, promote effectiveness of such strategies, and train the next generation of water professionals, we are conducting research, extension, and education project in the Henry's Fork Snake River watershed that will 1) develop quantitative models of ground and surface water use and flow pathways under historic, current, and anticipated future water/land use scenarios; 2) identify socioeconomic and physical mechanisms that will encourage water conservation and efficient water management on developed lands; 3) prepare and distribute to decision-makers, planners, and stakeholders educational materials describing the watershed's hydrologic system and water conservation benefits and strategies; 4) facilitate development by the Henry's Fork Watershed Council of a water conservation and management strategy to increase water availability for agriculture while enhancing ecological benefits in key stream reaches; and 5) provide experiential training to an interdisciplinary team of environmental science graduate and undergraduate students. A model of surface and ground water flow will be constructed from existing hydrologic data and measurements of stream and canal gain/loss and will be calibrated to traditional irrigation management conditions. This model will be used to predict future conditions under hypothesized land/water-use scenarios. Decision-makers and stakeholders will be involved throughout the project to ensure that project outputs meet their information needs, are disseminated effectively, and contribute to development of stakeholder-driven conservation strategies.

Project Funding

Agency

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

Funding Recipient

Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation

Funding Amount

$620,000

Project Objectives

  1. Develop quantitative models of ground and surface water flow under historic, current, and anticipated future water/land use scenarios.
  2. Identify mechanisms that will encourage water conservation and efficient water management on developed lands.
  3. Prepare and distribute educational materials describing the watershed's hydrologic system and water conservation and management strategies.
  4. Facilitate development of a water management strategy to increase water availability for agriculture while enhancing ecological benefits in key stream reaches.
  5. Provide experiential training to an interdisciplinary team of graduate and undergraduate students.