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Focus Areas


Simulating watersheds at a high resolution for robust scenario and impacts analysis

Every square inch of land on the planet is part of a watershed and impacts flow conditions downstream. Understanding the variability in land characteristics and hydrologic response across a watershed is critical for understanding water supply reliability.

RTI International’s Watershed Flow and ALLocation system (WaterFALL®) is a powerful modeling and decision-support platform that enables comprehensive investigation of flow characteristics and water availability at multiple geographic scales. WaterFALL incorporates an updated version of a well-established and widely used hydrologic model, the Generalized Water Loading Function, which has been modified to run on the enhanced National Hydrography Dataset catchment scale. Scenario features built into WaterFALL allow for streamlined evaluation of watershed conditions and impacts across the continental United States.

WaterFALL can help you understand (1) the natural hydrologic function, (2) the effects of human alterations to land use and streamflow as they occur today and (3) the ways in which potential change may impact a watershed system in the future. Example analyses include the following:

  • Land Use Change Impacts—Evaluating both positive and negative changes in hydrology and regime due to development, revegetation or land conservation
  • Climate Change Impacts—Incorporating potential scenarios of future climate variability and change to predict how availability of water and flow characteristics may shift at any user-designated geographic location
  • Ecological Flow Development—Evaluating a stream network’s natural and altered hydrologic conditions to develop flow regime metrics that describe optimal or required conditions to sustain stream habitat function and health
  • Water Supply Risk and Impact Assessment—Allowing consumers of water to assess site-specific vulnerability of water supplies, support plant siting studies, guide water conservation investments and satisfy sustainability measurement and reporting requirements
  • Water Allocation and Management—Enabling water resources planners and managers to systematically evaluate the impacts of proposed water allocation strategies on an entire watershed’s water availability
  • Reservoir Storage Yield Reliability Analysis—Calculating, based on historical and predicted conditions, the likelihood that a reservoir will be able to satisfy demands or yields under fluctuating inflow rates
  • Integrated Water Resources Management—Providing a platform to integrate surface water modeling with groundwater and coastal modeling simulations for a complete accounting of water resources under current and alternative scenarios across a large region

Access the WaterFALL platform.

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