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New Water Management Tools Help Save Water as HFF Completes 3-Year WaterSMART Project



Background

In Fall 2020, the Henry's Fork Foundation was awarded a WaterSMART Applied Science grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for FY21-23 to fund collaborative water conservation and management efforts in partnership with Fremont-Madison Irrigation District and other members of the Henry's Fork Drought Management Planning Committee. Completed in January 2024, the project cost nearly $560,000with $273,200 provided by Reclamation and $285,500 in matching funds provided by in-kind and private donations to HFF. With these funds, a team of sixteenincluding nine HFF staff, five interns, two external consultants, and one Ph.D. studentinstalled new streamflow gages, developed numerous hydrologic models, and created a web-based platform to improve access to hydrologic information.


Motivation

Saving water in Island Park Reservoir is important for growing more fish both upstream and downstream of the reservoir. But before this WaterSMART project, water managers did not have easy access to the data required to manage water precisely for increased reservoir savings. Therefore, HFF developed apps and tools for water managers to have access to decision-critical data at their fingertips, in real-time. Our new apps, tools, and streamflow gages are essential to saving water in Island Parkand growing more fish for the Henry's Fork fishery.


Impact

Our modeling tools and hydrologic data enhance other water conservation efforts, including on-farm demand reduction, increasing reservoir carryover, and benefitting fisheries. By improving access to streamflow, reservoir, and diversion data in real-time, HFF's efforts contributed to improving reservoir carryover by 50% (19% of reservoir capacity) and winter flow by an average of 115 cfsa 44% improvement worth an additional 575 rainbow trout joining the Box Canyon population each year. These kinds of measurable water savings are truly impressive and something we are incredibly proud of. Such success would not have been possible without our numerous collaborators, listed below.


Summary of Output

In completing this project, our team created 6 new web applications. They include data dashboards, forecasts and reports, and applied management tools. We also installed three new streamflow gages and developed/improved two of our water-prediction models. Lastly, we investigated streamflow-habitat relationships and groundwater-river interactions in the lower Henry's Fork. Read on for details on each output created for this project!



Apps developed (by category)

Use these tools to plan your fishing day

  • The Daily Water Report available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/DailyWaterReport/ shares HFF's daily water report, without the need for email subscription. Please note: water reports are not archived on the app and only share the most recent report. If you would like access to previous reports, we recommend signing up to receive the HFF's Daily Water Report via email. Email rob@henrysfork.org to request addition to the listserv.

  • The Water Quantity app available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/WaterQuantity/ has a real-time tab that allows users to visualize and compare data on streams, reservoirs, and diversions.

  • The Hatch Timing app available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/HatchTiming/ allows users to visualize aquatic insect emergence timing forecasts at select locations on the mainstem Henry's Fork. This app is activated in the spring and runs through the irrigation season (Oct-30).

Use these tools to explore how water management in the Henry's Fork watershed works

  • The Island Park Winter-Fill Simulation Tool allows users to run their own water management scenarios and is available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/IPWinter/.

  • The Teton Basin Groundwater Recharge Simulation Tool allows users to run their own groundwater recharge scenarios, available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/TetonAR/. This app was created in partnership with Friends of the Teton River and the Teton Basin Water Users Association.

  • The Water Quantity app available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/WaterQuantity/ allows users to visualize and download available daily data on watershed-specific streams and reservoirs, diversion and accounting, and climate for periods of record or a user-selected duration within that record. Yes, we listed this one twice. You can use it in so many ways!

  • The Lower Henry's Fork streamflow app available at https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/HydrologyApp/ depicts real-time streamflow within the Henry's Fork between St. Anthony and Parker-Salem, a reach important for managing Island Park Reservoir summer outflow. This app activates in the spring and runs through the irrigation season (Oct-30).


Streamflow gages

We installed streamflow gages at three stations: Buffalo River at Island Park, Teton River at Tetonia, and the Henry's Fork at Parker-Salem Highway (Red Road). All stations have automated collection and transmission to our Water Quantity app for visualization. The Buffalo River station operates all year; the others operate from April through the end of October. Check out the real-time tab! https://henrysforkdata.shinyapps.io/WaterQuantity/


Short-term, seasonal predictions

HFF uses predictive modeling to propose water management strategies to the Henry's Fork Drought Management Planning Committee. We developed a daily-scale winter operations model to fill Island Park Reservoir and made major modifications to an existing, daily-scale simulation model of reservoir and irrigation management that predicts streamflow and reservoir volumes for the April 1-September 30 period (most of irrigation season).


Applied science in published papers

  1. HFF developed a streamflow-habitat model for the lower Henry's Fork to inform summer management of Island Park outflow (available at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rra.4175). In 2020, this subproject led to a change in irrigation-season management by the Drought Management Planning Committee and creation of the Lower Henry's Fork streamflow app.

  2. HFF used everything from hydrologic statistics to satellite imagery to irrigator interviews to explore how agricultural irrigation practices have changed over time and impacted groundwater-river interactions. This subproject available at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2023.1188139/full features work from 3 HFF interns, all co-authors!

  3. HFF simulated the potential to conduct aquifer recharge in the lower Henry's Fork given water management rules and future water supply conditions. This subproject is currently undergoing peer review, but an initial draft is available in Christina Morrisett's Ph.D. dissertation (pages 69-118) available at https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/etd2023/7/.


Thank you

This work was made possible thanks to HFF donors like you. We also thank our project collaborators including Heidi Blischke, Dr. Curtis Nelson at BYU-Idaho, Dr. Sarah Null at Utah State University, Friends of the Teton River, Fremont-Madison Irrigation District and other members of the Henry's Fork Drought Management Planning Committee.

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