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(253) 552-1609
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Yakima Watershed and River Systems Management Program

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Competition among water-resource users in many basins in the western United States has resulted in a need for near-real-time assessments of water availability and use. The Watershed and River System Management Program (WARSMP) is a collaborative program between the USGS and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to couple watershed and river-reach models that simulate the physical hydrologic setting with routing and reservoir-management models that account for water availability and use. Advancements in computer hardware and modeling software have enabled the development of such water-resource models. The coupled models are then applied to Reclamation projects in the western United States.

The Yakima River Basin covers 6,200 square miles, beginning in the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range, where precipitation is more than 90 inches annually, and ending in the arid agricultural lands where the river discharges to the Columbia River. The basin is representative of water-use and water-resource management in the West, and because management of its waters is one of the most difficult tasks the USBR undertakes in the western United States, the WARSMP program approach was used to study this basin. For its part in the study, the USGS is developing methods to estimate mean annual streamflow for ungaged subbasins and the stream channel network to provide a data set of natural and unregulated streamflow for use in the watershed models, and then constructing, calibrating, and testing four watershed models for the basin. The results of this study can be used by water managers to assess the availability and use of water in the basin on a near-real-time basis.

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