Western water supply and use is at the nexus of many federal, state, and local agencies. Understanding atmospheric sciences, climate variability, climate change trends; their influence on water supply and water use; and identifying potential adaptation strategies is a common priority across these entities. Collaboration among federal agencies, non-profit entities, educational facilities, States and Local governments is essential to ensure economic efficiency of federal research investments, full utilization of federal capabilities, and avoid duplication.
Beginning in 2011, a cooperative agreement was established between Reclamation and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). The goal of the endeavor was to collaborate on specific projects intended to advance the scientific capabilities that support effective water management. The projects are designed to address needs consistent with well-established needs in the area of water resources management, such as those identified in the following in two products developed by the Climate Change and Water Working Group (CCAWG): Addressing Climate Change in Long-Term Water Resources Planning and Management: User Needs for Improving Tools and Information and Short-Term Water Management Decisions: User Needs for Improved Climate, Weather, and Hydrologic Information.
Researchers leading and engaged in the Water and Climate Research Project include scientists from Reclamation, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL) Physical Sciences Division (PSD), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Reclamation was established under the Reclamation Act of 1902 and has constructed power plants, dams and canals in the 17 western states. Reclamation’s mission is to manage and deliver water and hydropower to Western state beneficiaries. Reclamation is the largest wholesaler of water in the country, and provides water for 31 million people. In addition, one out of five western farmers receives water from Reclamation. Reclamation is also the second largest producer of hydropower in the West. Reclamation is overseen by a Washington D.C. based Commissioner and is organized under five regions with support offices in both Denver and Washington, DC. Denver offices include a Research and Development (R&D) Program Office, and a Technical Services Center that provides technical and applied research services in support of Reclamation’s mission.
The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) is a joint institute of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado at Boulder. CIRES researchers are employees of the University of Colorado located on campus and at NOAA’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder. Co-location of CIRES and NOAA enables strong coordination and utilization of complementary NOAA/CIRES capabilities on specific research projects and scientific investigations, and provides effective networking and leveraging opportunities throughout NOAA on a national and local basis. As a world leader in environmental sciences, CIRES is dedicated to identifying and pursuing innovative, interdisciplinary research targeted at all aspects of Earth system science, and to communicating these findings to the global scientific community, to decision-makers, and to the public.