Quantifying the impacts of interbasin transfers on water balances in the conterminous United States

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Title: Quantifying the impacts of interbasin transfers on water balances in the conterminous United States
Author: Buckley, John
Abstract: ABSTRACT An estimated 22 billion cubic meters (18 million acre feet) of water were exported through interbasin transfers (IBTs) every year from 1973-1982. Humans depend on IBTs for drinking water, crop production, power generation, and countless industrial processes. As human populations grow and expand around the globe, demand for clean, fresh water will continue to increase, and IBTs will continue to be considered as options for delivering that water to places in need. Increased demand and a changing climate make the future of existing IBTs uncertain, particularly in the Southwest United States where the Colorado River's storage reservoirs are at risk of depletion by the end of the twenty-first century. Using the USDA Forest Service's Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) model, updated USGS hydrologic datasets, and geographic information systems, this paper estimates, maps, and explores the impacts of IBTs on national water balances. Each IBT was classified as hydrologically favorable or unfavorable by comparing the fraction of natural runoff lost from the source sub-basin to the fraction of natural runoff gained in the receiving sub-basin, and downstream impacts on flow were estimated for all sub-basins in the conterminous United States. A quarter of all sub-basins were impacted by IBTs, whether gaining or losing water, and one third of those gained or lost more than one percent of their natural flow.
Publisher: North Carolina State University. College of Natural Resources
Date: 2013-01-04
Series/Report No.: Master of Natural Resources Professional Papers (North Carolina State University. College of Natural Resources)
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.4/8150


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