Presenter Information

Jessica DellaRossaFollow

Presentation Type

Poster - Campus Access Only

Abstract

Today, hydrologists are able to model water use in Montana, including the effects of changes in crop type or irrigation methods often driven by economics on surface water availability. It is extremely difficult, however, to integrate legal constraints on water use into these hydro-economic models. Over 90% of water diverted from streams or pumped from the ground in Montana is used for irrigated agriculture. Climate change is altering precipitation patterns around Montana, altering the timing and distribution of water available for irrigation. This combined with generally over-appropriated surface water sources—those that have more legal water claims than can be satisfied in most years—is creating potential for future conflict between agriculture and other social and ecological demands for water. This is precisely why hydrologic modelers need to integrate legal and institutional data into predictive models to better understand how integrating hydrologic, legal, and social systems function. This research aims to satisfy this need through a 3-step approach to integrate legal constraints into a hydro-economic model of Montana. First, I characterized institutional barriers and limitations to water use in the state of Montana. Next, through the mentorship of a water policy scientist, I created a scale from “legally constrained” to “legally unconstrained” water use to classify water basins across Montana. A third step to this research will include interviews with legal water experts across the state to determine if the constructed scale resembles water use realities on-the-ground. The expected result from this research is to create a geospatial dataset of institutional limitations to agricultural water use that can be integrated into a quantitative hydro-economic model for Montana.

Category

Social Sciences

Available for download on Saturday, April 25, 2020

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Apr 28th, 11:00 AM Apr 28th, 12:00 PM

Institutional Mapping of Montana Water Law

UC South Ballroom

Today, hydrologists are able to model water use in Montana, including the effects of changes in crop type or irrigation methods often driven by economics on surface water availability. It is extremely difficult, however, to integrate legal constraints on water use into these hydro-economic models. Over 90% of water diverted from streams or pumped from the ground in Montana is used for irrigated agriculture. Climate change is altering precipitation patterns around Montana, altering the timing and distribution of water available for irrigation. This combined with generally over-appropriated surface water sources—those that have more legal water claims than can be satisfied in most years—is creating potential for future conflict between agriculture and other social and ecological demands for water. This is precisely why hydrologic modelers need to integrate legal and institutional data into predictive models to better understand how integrating hydrologic, legal, and social systems function. This research aims to satisfy this need through a 3-step approach to integrate legal constraints into a hydro-economic model of Montana. First, I characterized institutional barriers and limitations to water use in the state of Montana. Next, through the mentorship of a water policy scientist, I created a scale from “legally constrained” to “legally unconstrained” water use to classify water basins across Montana. A third step to this research will include interviews with legal water experts across the state to determine if the constructed scale resembles water use realities on-the-ground. The expected result from this research is to create a geospatial dataset of institutional limitations to agricultural water use that can be integrated into a quantitative hydro-economic model for Montana.