Seminar Abstract

Nathan VanRheenen and Richard Palmer

Tuesday, November 16
3:30 to 5:00

Attention Snake River water users - You really can have it all! (or maybe you can't): Optimization as a means to better long-term water policies in the Snake River Basin


Battles over water in the Snake River Basin between agricultural, environmental, hydropower, and Federal users have been raging for over 30 years and will continue well into the foreseeable future. Despite the increasing needs of agricultural and environmental users, coupled with anticipated impacts of climate change, changes to management policies have largely consisted on small, incremental changes designed to appease all parties without deviating dramatically from the way the system has been managed historically. While these methods may achieve the goal of settling long legal disputes, it is our contention that these decisions are rarely optimal (in the best of cases) and offer only short-term solutions that will require future attention (in the worst of cases). To address this concern, we have developed a suite of models that identify optimal management policies for the basin, generate Pareto optimal tradeoff curves for these policies, then test their feasibility in a simulation of the system. This presentation will provide an overview of this modeling effort and results to date.

Speaker Bios:

Nathan VanRheenen is a CIG-funded PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.

Rick Palmer is a CIG Principal and Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.