In 1996, six federal agencies including the Corps, Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) recognized the need for a unified water operations model for the Upper Rio Grande Basin and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop such a tool to assist water managers. A new MOU was signed in 2007 for continued development of URGWOM with agencies signing as either a lead, contributing, or cooperating agency. Lead agencies include Reclamation, the Corps, and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. The lead agencies provide the most significant portion of funding for continued development and have representatives on an Executive Committee responsible for final decisions on the direction of URGWOM development. Contributing agencies help with providing data and technical reviews and have representatives on the Advisory Committee and Technical Team. The U.S. Geological Survey, BIA, University of New Mexico, IBWC, Paseo del Norte Watershed Council and Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder are all signatories to the MOU as contributing agencies. Cooperating agencies are provided opportunities to be involved with URGWOM development through participation on the Advisory Committee and currently include the City of Santa Fe, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Colorado Division of Water Resources, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Desert Research Institute, Caballo Soil and Water Conservation District, and Rio Grande Restoration, Inc.
The goal of this cooperative effort is to continue development of a numerical computer model for simulating water storage and delivery operations in the Rio Grande from its headwaters in Colorado to Hudspeth County, Texas. URGWOM was developed to provide a basic water operations model that replaces some of the previous more cumbersome methods used to plan, analyze, and evaluate river and reservoir management options. Modeling involves representing laws, policies, regulations, physical constraints, preferences, and computational methods and involves quick access to data to provide timely and accurate information for water managers for decision support and stakeholder education. The effort includes maintaining a database developed specifically for URGWOM to store the vast amount of data necessary for continued development of and completion of simulations with URGWOM.
URGWOM has been adopted as the front line tool for river and reservoir management and water accounting in the Basin by Reclamation and the Corps, and administering the model and database is a principal task. Each user of the model has individual needs and a framework for model administration has been established for the interagency effort. URGWOM development and model administration is performed by an interagency Technical Team with technical reviews and direction provided by the URGWOM Advisory Committee and final decisions on development direction made by an Executive Committee. Model development is largely driven by the need to maintain a tool that is the most reliable computational model for both water operations, and future planning studies in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in regards to potential changes to operations in the Basin, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) including hydrologic simulations to inform water operations Biological Assessments (BA). Continued model development is performed to improve the accuracy of Annual Operating Plans (AOPs) which are developed using the Rulebased Simulation Model for forecasting operations for an upcoming year from snowpack based inflow projections within the context of the most recent agreements and activities in the Basin. Methods for representing physical processes in the Basin are continuously reviewed and enhanced to improve model performance and utilize new data that become available, and the topology of the model is updated to reflect additions or changes to facilities in the system. Rules and the URGWOM database are updated regularly as part of model maintenance.
Model research, development, and maintenance tasks are approved by the Technical Team with final direction from the Executive Committee with consideration for the needs outlined in the Technical Team’s Five Year Plan which is periodically updated , based on actual funded activities and progress. The current Five Year Plan can be accessed using the link below:
URGWOM Five-year Plan Schedule
Work is reviewed under the stipulations of the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) plan which includes periodic independent technical reviews by a Technical Review Committee as benchmarks in model development are met. Protocol for establishing and tracking URGWOM versions is also outlined in the QA/QC plan. The QA/QC plan can be accessed using the link below:
URGWOM Quality Assurance/Quality Control Plan
Recent Advisory Committee meeting notes can be accessed using the link below:
URGWOM Advisory Committee Notes
Continued enhancement and development of URGWOM will entail improving the availability, timeliness, completeness, and accuracy of information and data related to water storage, deliveries, depletions, flood control operations, and other hydrologic variables. A key goal is to complete real-time modeling for water operations decision support so that real-time climate information can be used to make available water resource use as efficient as possible. Such a decision support system (DSS) would consist of a means for managing data, linking different modeling tools, and disseminating output to managers from different agencies and stakeholders. A watershed model for the Rio Grande Basin to be used as part of a real-time water operations model is under development.
Currently under development are models for simulating and accounting of water in the lower valley below Caballo Dam and a portion of the Rio Grande in Colorado. Also currently under development are additional capabilities for water quality modeling. The calibration has been completed for the updated Middle Valley conceptualization and has been merged with URGWOM. Model documentation is continuously being updated to improve the transparency of model development for all interested parties and stakeholders. See Documentation page.
An important aspect of continued model enhancement pertains to including additional current data in the database and making use of additional data as information becomes available. Often, meeting the evolving needs for URGWOM first requires data collection to gather the information needed to develop methods and calibrate portions of the model or gain a better understanding of processes affecting the water supply in a specific area of the system. Improved accuracy of data is another persistent goal for improving the quality of the model and any investigations completed with the model. As better data become available, relevant aspects of URGWOM are updated.