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URGWOM Summary

The Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model (URGWOM) was developed using the RiverWare software application developed by the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  URGWOM is a computational model developed through an interagency effort and is used to complete simulations with actual data or rulebased simulations using the URGWOM ruleset which is based on policy for operations of all the facilities in the Rio Grande Basin from its headwaters in Colorado to Hudspeth County,Texas and involves the use of complex accounting to track water specifically allocated for different water users.  Various methods are included to represent processes such as hydrologic travel times, reservoir evaporation and seepage, conveyance losses to deep percolation, river channel evaporation, evapotranspiration by riparian and agricultural vegetation, surface water-groundwater interaction, and municipal waste water and irrigation return flows.  Note that URGWOM is NOT a water supply model, a climate model, a water rights model, a rainfall/runoff model, a hydraulic model, or a groundwater model; although, such models may be used as pre-processors or post-processors with URGWOM to complete evaluations for a broader range of indicators.

URGWOM is used for multiple applications. An Accounting Model application is used to complete simulations with actual year-to-date data to track the status of accounts for individual water users. Rulebased simulations are used to prepare Annual Operating Plans (AOPs) and for preparing other short-term forecasts of operations. The model has also been used extensively for completing long-term planning runs to evaluate impacts of proposed actions and scenarios during development of Biological Assessments (BAs) for Rio Grande Water Operations and for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes to evaluate potential actions in the basin.


During the initial phase of URGWOM development various potential software options were considered. After an initial review of several reservoir and river simulation software packages within the context of the needs of water managers in the basin, RiverWare was selected as the software package for URGWOM. A key benefit of RiverWare is that software development is ongoing and new methods and capabilities can be added to RiverWare by the software developers to meet the evolving needs of URGWOM. RiverWare was developed by the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Software development continues to be sponsored and supported by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and Corps of Engineers (Corps). RiverWare is a generalized river basin modeling environment that can be used to develop an operations model for any hydrologic configuration and to simulate operations to meet needs for flood control, water supply, recreation, water quality, navigation, or any other purpose incorporated into the ruleset. RiverWare is designed to provide river basin managers with a tool for scheduling, forecasting, and planning reservoir operations and includes extensive capabilities for rulebased simulations and water accounting. Efforts are underway to integrate RiverWare into the Corps Water Management System (CWMS). RiverWare is a licensed software package that can be obtained for a fee and training courses are available. A free RiverWare viewer is available that can be obtained to view models but cannot be used to complete runs or modify model files.

For more detailed information about RiverWare, visit the CADSWES RiverWare web page at