The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation just released a timely study which provides options and guidelines to handle increased water demand in the Missouri River Basin. The release is especially important at a time when there will soon be significant decreases in snowmelt runoff above Fort Peck Reservoir.
Canyon Ferry Reservoir, part of the Upper Missouri River Basin Photo: Bureau of Reclamation
The basin covers about 50,000 square miles and is the primary water source for 320,000 people and about 1.1 million acres of irrigated lands.
"In a large basin such as the Missouri, there are many challenges to consider in planning for a sustainable future," Chief Engineer David Raff said. "The basin study provides the foundation for the stakeholders and Reclamation to work together and improve drought resiliency."
The study identified challenges facing Upper Missouri Basin's water supply. Key challenges include:
The study partners developed and evaluated potential strategies to meet the challenges within the basin. The strategies include:
Reclamation partnered with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to develop this basin study. In addition, the U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center and Montana State University - Bozeman participated in the development of this basin study. Numerous water districts participated in the basin study's development, and the study team communicated with the Blackfeet Tribe Water Resources Director.
The Missouri River Headwaters Basin Study is part of Reclamation's WaterSMART Program. View the full report at www.usbr.gov/watersmart/bsp. In addition, Reclamation will host a webinar on September 15, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time to share the results of the study. To join the webinar, click here.
WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART.