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Improved Water Management

Water Resources Division hydrologists provide technical support to regional office and field staff in dealing with hydrologic issues such as irrigation development, dam construction, water rights negotiations, and changes in water use for day-to-day refuge/hatchery operations as well as long-term refuge/hatchery management.

Technical assistance is provided to field stations in the area of water management and water use, in the development of long-range water management plans and comprehensive conservation plans, and wetland development and water accounting.   The staff performs hydrologic modeling and has access to a wide array of hydrologic data for use in planning and design.

Hydrologists oversee the collection and analysis of data to support the acquisition and protection of State and Federal water rights.   They design and install water measurement equipment, train field staff in the use of the equipment, and assess and interpret the collected data.

Typical projects associated with national wildlife refuges include:

1.  Quivira Partnership, a group of Fish and Wildlife Service, state and local agency representatives and an association of irrigators, working to resolve over-appropriation in the Rattlesnake Creek watershed in Kansas.   The partnership has developed a basin-wide water management plan that will result in less water use by irrigators, thus ensuring a more reliable water supply from Rattlesnake Creek, the main water source for Quivira NWR.

2.  Participation in International Board of Control meetings and water management meetings with North Dakota and local representatives to discuss annual operations on the Souris River.

3.  Cooperative effort with Sheridan County Conservation District and Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology to gather groundwater data with a goal of identifying the sustainable yield of the aquifer which supports local crop production and the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

4.   Development of the long-range water management plan, using a spreadsheet model, to assist Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah to better manage available water supply, as well as account for water diverted to flush and fill Refuge wetlands.

The staff reviews private and public land and water development proposals with respect to their impacts on Service interests.   They also provide technical assistance to Ecological Services on proposals which may affect threatened or endangered species, such as the Bureau of Reclamation Garrison Diversion Project and the Corps of Engineers proposed Devils Lake Outlet in North Dakota; the Closed Basin Project in Colorado; and riparian habitat for endangered fish and other species region-wide.

Water Resources has on staff a Colorado River and two Platte River  hydrologists who provide technical expertise in those specialized areas.


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