Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

David Rosenberg


David Rosenberg


Niel Allen


Joanna Endter-Wada


Jeffery S. Horsburgh


Blake Tullis


Water management decisions made at local levels may have effects throughout an entire river basin. Water managers need better ways to help identify which decisions have broader implications and to quantify those effects to inform decision making. This dissertation presents a framework providing a basin-wide approach to water management using three studies. The first study developed a software tool to quantify how local changes within a water resources network affect the entire network. A case study was conducted on the Lower Bear River in Utah. The second study quantified the basin-wide effects of reducing return flows from irrigation areas to the river. The reduced return flow indirectly simulated the effects of implementing water conservation. The third study evaluated how storage of conserved water in reservoirs affects a river basin. A case study of the Boise River Basin in Idaho was used in the second and third studies. The first study developed a method to visualize large networks through simple graphics and identify critical water management locations. The second study found that reducing return flows causes decreased river flow, increased reservoir storage use to meet irrigation demands, and increased irrigation shortages. The third study found that storing conserved water can reduce irrigation shortages throughout a basin. A common finding was that downstream water users were the most affected by management changes. Impacts to the entire river basin should be considered when making management decisions at local levels.