The interdisciplinary nature and increasing complexity of water- and environmental-resource problems require the use of modeling approaches that can incorporate knowledge from a broad range of scientific disciplines. The large number of distributed hydrological and ecosystem models currently available are composed of a variety of different conceptualizations of the associated processes they simulate. Assessment of the capabilities of these distributed models requires evaluation of the conceptualizations of the individual processes, and the identification of which conceptualizations are most appropriate for various combinations of criteria, such as problem objectives, data constraints, and spatial and temporal scales of application. With this knowledge, "optimal" models for specific sets of criteria can be created and applied. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Modular Modeling System (MMS) is an integrated system of computer software that has been developed to provide these model development and application capabilities. MMS supports the integration of models and tools at a variety of levels of modular design. These include individual process models, tightly coupled models, loosely coupled models, and fully-integrated decision support systems. A variety of visualization and statistical tools are also provided. MMS has been coupled with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) object-oriented reservoir and river-system modeling framework, RiverWare, under a joint USGS-BOR program called the Watershed and River System Management Program. MMS and RiverWare are linked using a shared relational database. The resulting database-centered decision support system provides tools for evaluating and applying optimal resource-allocation and management strategies to complex, operational decisions on multipurpose reservoir systems and watersheds. Management issues being addressed include efficiency of water-resources management, environmental concerns such as meeting flow needs for endangered species, and optimizing operations within the constraints of multiple objectives such as power generation, irrigation, and water conservation. This decision support system approach is being developed, tested, and implemented in the Gunni-son, Yakima, San Juan, Rio Grande, and Truckee River basins of the western United States. Copyright ASCE 2004.