Management of snow-fed arid-land river systems in the western United States has taken on critical importance in response to the impact of variable climate conditions on water supply. In snow-fed arid-land river systems such as the Truckee-Carson River System, the timing and duration of snowpack accumulation and spring runoff are critical factors driving the region’s water availability throughout the seasons. Anticipated variability in these hydrologic processes may expose the region and its communities to increased vulnerability to prolonged drought, increasing temperatures and food events (Kleppe et al. 2011). Assessing and enhancing climate resilience means identifying the ability of the Truckee-Carson River System to absorb the impacts of extreme climate events and to recover, or bounce back, from these impacts.

Collaborative Modeling Creating effective community responses to improve resilience to extreme climate events, such as prolonged drought, requires acknowledging and understanding the interaction between human and natural systems. Collaborative modeling is one way of inviting public participation into climate science research to facilitate and encourage adaptation strategies for all communities within the river system.

In Water for the Seasons, collaborative modeling links scientifc research with community problem-solving to produce knowledge useful to both local organizations and scientists striving to improve translation of technical findings related to water resources. Programmatic goals are to:

  • Evaluate Truckee-Carson River System vulnerabilities to climate variability;
  • Assess the resilience of the river system’s communities, and related decision-making, under climate extremes; and
  • Enhance the capacity of these communities to strengthen resiliency and adaptive capacity.

Stakeholder participation in Water for the Seasons research occurs through a:

  1. survey of local water management/interest organizations to assess the river system’s resilience and adaptive capacity and to use these survey data to develop plausible climate scenarios for hydrologic modeling of system vulnerability;
  2. survey of water right holders to assess individual decision-making with regards to adaptive capacity and strategies;
  3. series of structured workshops that convene scientists with key organizational stakeholders to further assess system resilience and explore ways to enhance adaptive capacity; and
  4. series of focus group discussions with key local stakeholders to iteratively identify adaptive strategies in response to the results of stakeholder-informed climate scenarios and hydrologic models.

This collaborative modeling research design adopts best practices established to date to support effective participatory research (Butler & Adamowski, 2015; Meadow et al. 2015; Langsdale et al. 2013; Sandoval-Solis et al. 2013; Bourget, 2011).

This Special Publication reports the preliminary results of the frst phase of stakeholder participation – a survey of 66 organizations with water management responsibilities or interests in the Truckee-Carson River System. The publication provides a brief background of the river system, describes the development and implementation of the survey of organizations, summarizes key survey findings, and explains how these findings are used to further assess system resilience and adaptive capacity.

The complete special report can be downloaded using the link below.

Singletary, L., Sterle, K., and Simpson, K. 2016, Assessing the Climate Resiliency and Adaptive Capacity of the Truckee-Carson River System: Preliminary Results of a Survey of Local Organizations, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, SP-16-03

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Associated Programs

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Water for the Seasons

Water for the Seasons (WftS) is a program that partners scientists with community water managers and water right holders in the Truckee-Carson River System (TCRS), to explore new strategies and solutions for dealing with extreme climate events such as droughts and floods.