New analysis reveals challenges for drought management in Oregon's Willamette River Basin | 10/23/2017 | Staff
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In Oregon's fertile Willamette River Basin, where two-thirds of the state's population lives, managing water scarcity would be more effective if conservation measures were introduced in advance and upstream from the locations where droughts are likely to cause shortages, according to a new study.

The study, published today in the journal Nature Sustainability, illustrates how ineffective conservation measures may be when they can only be implemented in the wrong months or downstream of where the shortage is occurring, said the study's lead author, William Jaeger, an economist in Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Findings - River - Basins - Help - Policymakers

The findings can be applied to other river basins and help policymakers make decisions about mitigating drought, Jaeger said.

"The results indicate that while the policies are effective at conserving water, they have limited ability to mitigate the shortages because timing and location of conservation responses do not match the timing and location of the shortages," he said. "It's a case of a mismatch in terms of where and when."

Study - National - Science - Foundation - National

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was based on results derived from a computer model called Willamette Envision, which represents the fine-level interactions between the Willamette River Basin's natural water supply and the human and natural system's water demands for farms, people, fish, and forests.

Models of this kind may help policymakers recognize when and where water scarcity and drought will arise, and to better understand the kinds of policy interventions that are most likely to mitigate drought, Jaeger said.

Study - Relevance - Willamette - River - Basin

"This is a study that has relevance beyond the Willamette River Basin," Jaeger said. "There will be similarities in other basins. Being able to mitigate drought is going to depend on understanding these same factors and relationships."

The main stem of the Willamette River flows north for 187 miles between the Oregon Coast Range...
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