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Professional Paper 1778

National Water Availability and Use Pilot Program

Water Availability and Use Pilot: A Multiscale Assessment in the U.S. Great Lakes Basin

By Howard W. Reeves


Thumbnail of cover and link to report PDF (20.7 MB)

Beginning in 2005, water availability and use were assessed for the U.S. part of the Great Lakes Basin through the Great Lakes Basin Pilot of a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) national assessment of water availability and use. The goals of a national assessment of water availability and use are to clarify our understanding of water-availability status and trends and improve our ability to forecast the balance between water supply and demand for future economic and environmental uses. This report outlines possible approaches for full-scale implementation of such an assessment. As such, the focus of this study was on collecting, compiling, and analyzing a wide variety of data to define the storage and dynamics of water resources and quantify the human demands on water in the Great Lakes region.

The study focused on multiple spatial and temporal scales to highlight not only the abundant regional availability of water but also the potential for local shortages or conflicts over water. Regional studies provided a framework for understanding water resources in the basin. Subregional studies directed attention to varied aspects of the water-resources system that would have been difficult to assess for the whole region because of either data limitations or time limitations for the project. The study of local issues and concerns was motivated by regional discussions that led to recent legislative action between the Great Lakes States and regional cooperation with the Canadian Great Lakes Provinces. The multiscale nature of the study findings challenges water-resource managers and the public to think about regional water resources in an integrated way and to understand how future changes to the system—driven by human uses, climate variability, or land-use change—may be accommodated by informed water-resources management.

First posted February 7, 2011

For additional information contact:
Howard W. Reeves, Project Chief
National Water Availability and Use Pilot Program
U.S. Geological Survey
6520 Mercantile Way
Lansing, MI 48911

Great Lakes Pilot Project

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Reeves, H.W., 2010, Water Availability and Use Pilot—A multiscale assessment in the U.S. Great Lakes Basin: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1778, 105 p.


Executive Summary
        Background and Major Issues
        Regional Analysis
        Subregional Analyses
         Lake Michigan Basin Groundwater-Flow Model
         Estimation of Streamflows
         Water Withdrawals, Return Flows, and Consumption
        Local Analyses
         Groundwater/Surface-Water Interaction
         Assessment of Climate-Change Effects
         Assessment of Uncertainty of Flow, Water-Level, and Base-Flow Reduction Estimates
        Challenges and Lessons Learned
        Purpose and Scope
        Previous Studies
        Approach to the Pilot
Great Lakes Basin Water-Availability Issues
Characteristics of the Great Lakes Basin
Regional Water Availability Analysis for the U.S. Great Lakes Basin
        Predevelopment Conditions
         Stocks (Storage)
         Flows and Processes
        Postdevelopment Conditions
         Surface-Water Diversions Into and Out of the Great Lakes Basin
         Regional Water Withdrawals and Water Use
         Regional Water Budgets Through Time
        Regional Indicators
        Summary and Importance of Regional Analysis
        Need for Subregional and Local Analyses
Subregional Water-Availability Analysis Within the U.S. Great Lakes Basin
         Groundwater-Flow Model
         Groundwater Budget
         Groundwater-Availability Summary Indicators
         Groundwater-Flow Model and Groundwater Availability
        Surface Water
        Water Withdrawals and Water Use
Local-Scale Water Availability Analysis Within the U.S. Great Lakes Basin
        Inset Groundwater-Flow Model Integrating Groundwater and Surface-Water Availability
         Groundwater/Surface-Water Interaction
         Response to Climate Change
        Monitoring and Network Analysis
         Example Bootstrap Analysis for Surface-Water Monitoring Network
         Example Model-Uncertainty Analysis Using the Local Groundwater-Flow Model
Summary of Pilot Study
Challenges for Future Water-Availability Studies

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