Colorado River at Marble Canyon

RTI International Receives Extended Contract with NASA to Improve Water Forecasting

February 22, 2019

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – RTI International, Colorado State University and Utah State University have been supporting NASA’s Earth Science Applied Sciences Program through a Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Science (ROSES) grant since 2015. The purpose of the program is to develop more accurate seasonal water supply forecasts for the Upper Colorado River Basin, which affects 25 million people and 3.5 million acres of irrigated land. NASA recently awarded RTI International and the two universities an additional year to their current contract to estimate the potential value of improved forecasts to water users in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Over the past few years, RTI International, Colorado State University, and Utah State University have worked with Denver Water and Dolores Water Conservancy District, which manage water for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses throughout Colorado. The primary goal throughout the project has been to develop a forecasting framework that generates improved water supply forecasts and uncertainty estimates of the forecasts for these stakeholders to support better decision-making about water management. For example, one of the goals of the project is to ensure a balance between having enough water in the Denver water supply to serve the Denver metropolitan area, but not having excess water that can flood the homes near the reservoir.

RTI International and the two universities will continue working with the two primary stakeholders to assess the socio-economic benefits from better forecasting and the demonstrate the value from the data collection program they have implemented over the past few years. The research organizations will continue to aid their stakeholders with better decision-making processes and planning for drought and flood conditions.

The Upper Colorado River Basin project will continue to build the RTI Center for Water Resources’ international reputation in forecasting expertise and align RTI’s interest in bridging the gap between research and operations.

To read more about RTI’s work with NASA to improve water supply forecasts for the Upper Colorado River Basin, please visit

To learn more about RTI’s Center for Water Resources, please visit