Integrated Resource Management at a Watershed Scale
Abstract:Watershed hydrologists, managers and planners have a long list of resources to “manage.” Our group has worked for over a decade to develop and apply the GENESYS (Generate Earth Systems Science) high-resolution spatial hydrometeorological model. GENESYS was intended for modelling of alpine snowpack, and that work has been the subject of a series of hydrometeorology papers that applied the model to evaluate how climate change may impact water resources for a series of climate warming scenarios through 2100. GENESYS has research modules that have been used to assess alpine glacier mass balance, soil water and drought, forest fire risk under climate change, and a series of papers linking GENESYS to a water temperature model for small headwater streams. Through a major commercialization grant, we are refining, building, adopting, and adapting routines for flood hydrology and hydraulics, surface and groundwater storage and runoff, crop and ecosystem soil water budgets, and biomass yields. The model will be available for research collaborations in the near future. The central goal of this development program is to provide a series of research and development tools for non-profit integrated resource management in the developed and developing world.
A broader question that arises is what are the bounds of watershed management, if any? How long should our list of “managed” resources be? Parallel work is evaluating the relative values of watershed specialists managing many more resources with the watershed. Hydroelectric power is often a key resource complimentary to wind, solar and biomass renewable energy developments; and biomass energy is linked to water supply and agriculture. The August 2014 massive tailings dam failure in British Columbia threatens extensive portions of the Fraser River sockeye salmon run, millions of fish, and there are concerns about long-term contamination of water supplies for many British Columbians. This disaster, and many others that may occur quickly, or challenges like climate and land use change, require water managers to become much more vigilant in protecting our watershed resources.