Water Allocation Modeling

André Dozier and Mazdak Arabi

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, CSU

Douglas Kenney

University of Colorado Law School, CU

Water allocation modeling within the South Platte River Basin contains critical elements necessary for many other portions of the water sustainability project including socio-economic, hydrologic, ecoological, and water conservation analyses. A mix of network flow and rule-based models will be linked with groundwater and surface water hydrologic models to provide a detailed assessment modeling framework with which to analyze feasibility, resiliency, vulnerability, and reliability of management solutions under the following institutional agreements:

  • Prior Appropriation:
    Water rights govern priority of water allocations, which is the system for managing water in the water limited Western U.S. Senior water right holders have the right to divert water from the river without being negatively impacted by diversions of a junior water right holder.
  • Free Market:
    Buyers and sellers trade water with some transaction costs due to infrastructure requirements.
  • Alternative Water Transfer Methods:
    Under current prior appropriation laws governing water management, various methods for leasing water or trading water rights may lead to a more flexible and economically efficient system that does not require fundamental changes to prior appropriations law.

Under free market and alternative water transfer approaches, socio-economic simulation will estimate water demands, costs, and value of various management solutions given current climate, population, and land-use projections. Continuous engagement with policy makers, stakeholders within the basin, and other institutions represents a key aspect of the project that aims to build bottom-up, stakeholder-driven water management solutions.