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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: October 15, 2001
Marijke van Heeswijk
253-428-3600, ext. 2625

New Watershed Tool to Help Guide Methow Basin Water Choices

Decisions about managing water in the Methow River Basin can be guided with a new computer watershed model described in a report published today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Developed in cooperation with Okanogan County and the Methow River Basin Planning Unit, the USGS model simulates natural streamflow conditions all across the basin. Resource managers need this streamflow information to help make choices about the allocation of water for fish habitat, irrigation, and other uses. The Methow River Basin is one of many watersheds engaged in a water quantity planning process outlined by the state Watershed Management Act. In addition, three species of fish in the basin-summer steelhead, Chinook salmon, and bull trout-have been listed under the Endangered Species Act.

"The model can estimate the amount of natural flow in important streams that aren't gaged or measured," said Matt Ely, USGS hydrologist and lead author of the report. "Overall performance of the model is good, and it improves our understanding of the flow system in the basin."

The report that documents the model, "Use of a Precipitation-Runoff Model to Simulate Natural Streamflow Conditions in the Methow River Basin, Washington," by D. Matthew Ely and John C. Risley, is published as U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4198. Copies of the report are available for reading at the U.S. Geological Survey, 1201 Pacific Avenue, Suite 600, Tacoma, WA 98402. Copies can be purchased from the U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services, Box 25286, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0286, telephone 303-202-4200.

The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.

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