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Assessing Water Management Needs

Through our Water Needs Assessments, we identify, catalog and understand key needs for information and decision support in water management in the arid west. We do this on a river-basin-by-basin basis.

Our Needs Assessment process involves surveying a range of stakeholders on their key issues in and around each basin, then holding a focused, in-person Needs Assessment workshop to dig deeper into those needs, as well as the obstacles to meeting those needs. Working hand-in-hand with stakeholders, we characterize gaps – between how water is currently managed and how it could be better managed – that impede decision-making progress, and the context surrounding those gaps. The details of each need (gap) are translated into Use Case format.

As of the end of 2019, WWAO has surveyed four of the ten major river basins – California, Upper Colorado, Lower Colorado and Columbia – in the continental western U.S. (the region west of the 100th meridian). A Rapid Needs Assessment was also undertaken shortly after WWAO’s launch. This has given us a catalog of around 150 high-priority needs and 40 detailed use cases.

2021 will see Needs Assessments completed for the Missouri and Rio Grande River Basins.

Stakeholder Engagement

Through our stakeholder engagement program, we make connections between stakeholders and NASA scientists, technology, tools, and data. We recognize that partner-driven tools start with relationships. And as in all relationships, listening is key.

Headquartered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, WWAO is located so as to be able to build meaningful relationships with water stakeholders in the west and improve their access to NASA solutions. We work to meaningfully expand our reach into the public and private sectors.

Public Sector Partnerships

WWAO is currently engaging 15 states in the western U.S. and key federal agencies. This engagement takes various forms:

WWAO’s federal and regional partners include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Geological Survey, and tribal nations.

Private Sector Partnerships

Through our Water Alliance and the Water Funder Initiative, we are strategically engaging with the private sector.

WWAO’s Water Alliance is a group of hand-picked private companies and non-profit groups involved in western-water management and infrastructure that can potentially partner with WWAO to 1) forge innovative collaborations and 2) help transition WWAO’s Water Projects out of NASA to sustainable, long-term states.

The Water Funder Initiative is a collaboration of leading philanthropic groups (such as the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) seeking to deliver promising water solutions through strategic investments in the U.S. Their focus, which starts in the American west, where the scarcity and reliability of clean water are urgent issues, aligns well with WWAO’s strategy and vision.