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USGS Washington Water Science Center

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Christopher Curran,
934 Broadway,
Suite 300
Tacoma, WA 98402

(253) 552-1614
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NWIFC Water Assessment

Project Summaries

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9722-CJ3 - Tribal Assessment of Water Resources in Western Washington - Completed FY2011

Problem - Water resources are essential to Native American Tribes in western Washington for instream and out-of-stream uses (fig. 1). As demands for water increases in the region, information about water availability, water use, and ecological requirements for water is critical to scientifically based water-resources management. A comprehensive assessment of water resources for the region is not available to inform current and future management decisions despite many hydrologic investigations and monitoring by tribal and non-tribal organizations. Western Washington Tribes are interested in increasing their capability to assess water resources by improving hydrologic data collection, management, and analysis and in developing a comprehensive regional assessment of water resources through coordinated data collection, management, and analysis by tribal and non-tribal organizations.

Objectives - The objective of this project is to identify opportunities for improving tribal water-resources data collection, management, and analysis, including development of information systems that support water-resources management decisions. The project will review the current status of tribal water-resources information, including information users and needs, hydrologic data-collection efforts, and data management systems. Significant information gaps, such as streamflow in headwater streams or the water requirements of aquatic ecosystems, will be identified.

Relevance and Benefits - The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) developed a scientific framework for a comprehensive assessment of tribal water resources in western Washington (Konrad, 2005). The proposed project will initiate implementation of the plan, which will integrate available information on water resources in western Washington, develop systems for accessing the information, and identify areas where additional research and monitoring is needed for a comprehensive understanding of water resources in the region. This project will contribute to an improved understanding of water availability in western Washington, which was identified as a major scientific issue for the Washington Water Science Center in its 2004 Science Plan, by developing watershed assessment methods (information need #1) and addressing hydrologic knowledge gaps in the region (information need #3). The project also represents a significant effort by the Washington Water Science Center to fulfill the Department of the Interior's trust responsibilities to Native American Tribes.

Approach - The USGS will designate a hydrologist to serve as a liaison to the NWIFC. The liaison will coordinate assessment activities and serve as the primary USGS contact for NWIFC and tribes. The assessment will have three initial tasks in 2006: identify tribal information resources and needs; review options for tribal water-resources information systems; develop approaches for assessing the water requirements of aquatic ecosystems.

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