Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Cody Wiley

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Water is a vital resource that is under pressure from increasing demands. The pressures are further aggravated by the potential of decreases or changes in supplies, which may result from climate change. The pressures are especially acute in dry climates such as New Mexico. Leases and markets are means of efficiently reallocating this resource. However, these transfers do not function well under uncertainty. Yet the current NM water rights system, based on the prior appropriations doctrine, has a high degree of uncertainty due to the interlocking spatiotemporal nature of water rights and the possibilities of third party effects occurring subsequent to changes in one or more of the elements of a water right. Flow constraints exacerbate the problem and are likely to be ongoing in light of increasing demand and changing supplies. One means of reducing uncertainty is to model the situation. Very few models incorporate the ability to model water rights transfers, however. For example, a dynamic systems model of the Middle Rio Grande (MRG) has been created and is used in public input and education processes. This model includes physical factors but does not, as of yet, address the uncertainties generated by water rights transfers. This professional project will model a set of hypothetical transfer scenarios based in the MRG basin, within a dynamic systems modeling program. This should demonstrate the feasibility of modeling water rights transfers to reduce uncertainty. Addition of this aspect to the full MRG model will also be discussed.

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water rights, flow constraints, Middle Rio Grande, Prior Appropriations (PA) doctrine, STELLA model


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico.