Water is a limited and precious resource in the Colorado River Basin (CRB). There is great interest in assessing water availability in the CRB as demands increase and climate change modeling predicts a dryer future. Quantification of the individual components of the regional water budget can illuminate local surpluses and deficits in the regional water budget and help managers prioritize mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Because surface-water resources are so carefully monitored and managed in this region, stakeholders agreed that the largest incremental contribution in knowledge would be for the Focus-Area Study to concentrate on (1) understanding water-use in the Basin, (2) better quantifying the snow-pack water balance, (3) providing regional estimates of evapotranspiration as well as field-scale quantification of ET for quantifying agricultural consumptive water use, and (4) determining the relative importance of groundwater discharge to streams (where? how much? what flow paths?) in support of base flows and Basin water supply.