WestFAST representatives collaborate among themselves to effectively and efficiently carry out their agencies’ water-related missions. In this role, WestFAST has begun a “Special Topics” Webinar Series to present, and allow discussion on, a range of WestFAST federal agency water-resource activities with the objective of improving awareness of and collaboration in water programs and our support of states programs.


Current Month and Future Scheduled Webinars

Webinar  NIDIS Drought Update (under development)


Past WestFAST Webinars

2018 Webinar (July 26, 2018) – U.S. Department of Agriculture – Economic Research Service: preliminary work on irrigation survey for water and irrigation districts

The introduction is missing from the recording –  here are the basic – Steven Wallander and Marcel Aillery of USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) along with members of the WestFAST and WSWC on a new Survey of Irrigation Organizations under development by ERS and USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) with additional support from USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE).  The purpose of this project is to collect current information on irrigation water-supply management entities: irrigation districts (and other private entities) as well as groundwater management districts, as part of the USDA’s data development and research on drought resilience and farm-level irrigation decisions.   A national census or survey of irrigation organizations in forty years.  In that time, many aspects of local water management institutions have changed, including the number and size of irrigation organizations, the pricing structures used for cost recovery, the reliance on new sources of water quantity data, and an expanded emphasis on groundwater management.  The new survey of irrigation organizations will develop a dataset on district-scale characteristics and resource use, with special emphasis on water allocation institutions and conservation policies that impact farm-level drought response and resiliency.

2017 Webinar #4 (November 16, 2017) – Getting to know the DOI-USGS Climate Science Centers

The first few seconds of the webinar was truncated for some reason, and didn’t catch all of the introduction for Robin O’Malley who is the Director of the North Central Climate Science Center in Fort Collins Colorado.  Robin is originally from the Northeastern United States and is finding the west a very interesting challenge.  This is where the recording picks up….



2017 Webinar #3 (October 10, 2017, 10am MDT) – “Getting to know your Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units”.


Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESUs) provide research, technical assistance, and education to federal land management, environmental, and research agencies and their partners. Their broad scope includes the biological, physical, social, cultural, and engineering disciplines needed to address natural and cultural resource management issues at multiple scales and in an ecosystem context. Overhead costs are limited to 17.5%, allowing more money to go toward science.
The multi-disciplinary structure of CESUs and their low over-head rate makes them well-suited to address federal agency needs for sustainability science.

2017 Webinar #2 (August 24, 2017, 10am, MDT) – EPA’s Water Innovation Fund


Water Innovation Fund

The Water Funder Initiative is (WFI) is a collaborative effort to identify and activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the U.S., starting in the West where the scarcity and reliability of clean water are urgent issues. The goal of the Water Innovation Fund (“the Fund”) is to accelerate the adoption of promising water innovations by small and mid-sized utilities (SMUs) that are likely to improve system cost structures, resilience and performance. To do this, the Fund will leverage a small portion of the existing cash-balances in the SRFs, alongside philanthropic capital to support early adoption of promising innovations by SMUs.

2017 Webinar #1 (June 22, 2017, 10am, MDT) – NASA Satellite Data and Hydrology Tools

Daniel Wood presented an update on the use of satellite data for water management, and the tools that NASA is developing to assist with hydrology modeling. For the presentation, click here. For a recording of the webinar, please click here.


2016 Webinar #7 (October 6, 2016, 9:30 am, MDT) – Federal water resource and resilience investment centers

WestFAST hosted a webinar with EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resilience Finance Center, the USDA’s Rural Opportunity Investment Initiative, and the Department of the Interior’s Natural Resource Investment Center (collectively, the Finance Centers).

This webinar was a follow up action from the WestFAST principals meeting held in March of this year in Washington, DC. We see this webinar as the first of many steps in developing a stronger working relationship with not only the Western States Water Council but also between each and every state.

The individual work and the collaboration of the Finance Centers plays a central role in the implementation of President Obama’s Drought Presidential Memorandum and the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) Action Plan. On the webinar, we will hear a little about what each Finance Center has underway individually, what they are planning to collaborate on, and how they would like to engage with the WSWC in the future. They also would like to hear from the WSWC members about how best they can engage with each of the states and the Council.

To access the presentation slides from this webinar, click here.


2016 Webinar #5 (6/28/2016, 9:30 AM Mountain) – Improving Sub-Seasonal and Seasonal Precipitation Forecasting

The Western States Water Council (WSWC) believes that the current accuracy of forecasts (generally referred to as forecast skill) for the sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) time frame is not adequate to support water management decision-making. S2S forecasts include environmental predictions with forecast ranges from 2 weeks to 12 months.

The WSWC has asked that the federal government prioritize additional resources to move forward with more research, observations, and operational weather modeling to provide necessary support for near-term improvement in S2S precipitation forecasting for water management. The WSWC, the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR), and NOAA have cosponsored a series of workshops to explore this issue and possible pathways toward improvement in S2S precipitation forecasting. On June 28th, WestFAST will be briefed on the results of these workshops and on progress on plans to support improved forecasting. WestFAST will review and discuss the potential benefits of efforts to improve S2S forecasting to their water resource and missions and programs.

Click here to view a fact sheet on this effort.

View NOAA presentation slides here.

View CDWR presentation slides here.


2016 Webinar #4 (5/13/2016 – repeat briefing) – The Importance of base flow in sustaining surface water flow in the Upper Colorado River Basin

USGS Research Hydrologist Matthew Miller provided a briefing on a recent study describing how scientists used a new method to more accurately estimate the percentage of groundwater in streamflow, finding that more than half of the streamflow in the Upper Colorado River Basin originates as groundwater. A model has been developed to assess the spatial distribution of base flow, the fraction of streamflow supported by base flow, and estimates of and potential processes contributing to the amount of base flow that is lost during in-stream transport in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Study findings and resulting modeling tools can aid decision makers in effectively managing current and future water resources in the Colorado River Basin.

Click here to see presentation slides.

This webinar was recorded. To access the recording please please email Pat Lambert at patlambert@wswc.utah.gov.

The report – “The importance of base flow in sustaining surface water flow in the Upper Colorado River Basin” By Miller and other was recently published in the journal Water Resources Research – click here to access the report.

Links to press releases and news coverage of this study.

AGU Blog: http://blogs.agu.org/geospace/2016/05/09/half-streamflow-upper-colorado-river-basin-originates-groundwater/

NPR: http://kuer.org/post/study-colorado-river-flow-half-groundwater


2016 Webinar #3 (4/7/2016) – The Western State Water Council Water Data Exchange (WaDE)

On April 7th, at 2:00 (eastern), WestFAST will be briefed on progress in the development of the WSWC Water Date Exchange (WaDE). WaDE is a framework developed to allow various groups better ability to share state water data including information on water allocation, supply, and water demand data. WaDE is a cooperative effort between the WSWC, the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and WestFAST. Sara Larsen WSWC Water Data Exchange (WaDE) Program Manager and Dwane Young, EPA and WestFAST Water Data Work Group Chair will lead the briefing. We will also discuss WestFAST Water Data Work Group plans to assess and report on WaDE’s future relevance and utility to WestFAST agency water information needs.



2016 Webinar #2 (2/25/2016) – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agency Overview and the Relevance of Water to the Agency’s Mission 

Andrew Hautzinger (WestFAST) and Mike Higgins of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will brief WestFAST on agency structure and priority water-resource related issues including (1) Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation, (2) Ecological Services/Endangered Species,  (3) Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program, and (4) the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Click here to view presentation slides.


2016 Webinar #1 (1/28/2016) – Update on the National Drought Resilience Partnership, next steps, and WestFAST roles

The interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP) was established in 2013 as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy. WestFAST was briefed on the progress and products of the NDRP including the activities of the Upper Missouri River Basin: Building Drought Early Warning Capability in Montana demonstration project. The Upper Missouri River Basin Project, sponsored by NIDIS, the National Drought Mitigation Center, Environmental Protection Agency and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, is a demonstration of how preparedness can be improved when federal agencies go “all in” to develop a long-term drought strategy. We will also discuss NDRP next steps as defined in recent White House Drought symposia and potential WestFAST roles in the facilitating implementation of those steps. The briefing was led by Roger Gorke (EPA, WestFAST Chair) and Tina Laidlaw (EPA, Region 8) representatives from the Upper Missouri Basin Project.

Click here to see the Montana demonstration project work plan. Click here to view a copy of the presentation.


2015  Webinar #10 (10/29/2015) – U.S. Forest Service Water Resource Roles and the USFS NorWest Stream Temperature Program

Mike Eberle, USDA Forest Service Surface Water Program leader, reviewed priority water resource issues and program in the Forest Service and Daniel Isaak, USFS Research Fish Biologist presented on the activities and products of the USFS NorWest stream-temperature database and modeling program. The NorWest Program provides stream temperature data and geospatial map outputs from a regional temperature model for the Northwest U.S. The temperature database was compiled from hundreds of biologists and hydrologists working for dozens of resource agencies and contains more than 50,000,000 hourly temperature recordings at more than 20,000 unique stream sites. These temperature data are being used with spatial statistical stream network models to develop an accurate and consistent set of climate scenarios for all streams.

A recording of the Webinar can be reviewed here. You can also download the recorded webinar.


2015 Webinar #9 (9/24/2015) – USGS – Water Programs and the National Water Census

WestFAST members and webinar participants reviewed selected USGS Water Resources Programs with focus on the National Water Census .  Pixie Hamiliton, USGS Cooperative Water Program National Coordinator  and Sonja Jones, USGS Water Census Programs, led the discussion which included an overview of the USGS Water Availability and Science Program. Click here to find webinar presentation materials.


2015 Webinar #8 (8/20/2015) – NASA – Watching Water in the West:
An Overview of NASA Missions and Applied Science for Water Resources Management

Dr. Bradley Doorn and Forrest Melton from the NASA Applied Sciences program provided an overview of NASA satellite and airborne missions relevant to water resources monitoring and management in the western US. They also presented highlights from NASA’s portfolio of applied science activities that are focused on applying NASA’s remote sensing capabilities to support advances in water resources management. Click here to view presentation slides.


2015 Webinar #7 (7/29/2015) – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation collaborations in “Challenge & Prize Competition” programs for priority water resource solutions

Challenge and prize competitions are one path that federal agencies are taking to drive innovation and solve mission-centric problems. More than 425 challenges have been run in the Federal government since 2010.  The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is participating, in collaboration with other WestFAST agencies, in several water-resource challenge and prize competitions including solutions in brackish water desalination, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and water availability. Chuck Hennig, Deputy Chief of the Research and Development Office, Denver Colorado, will lead a presentation and discussion on Reclamation’s involvement in challenge and prize competitions toward helping solve critical water and water-related resource problems facing our Nation.

Find presentation materials here.

Here are some additional links on the our webinar topic –
Bloomberg News Video about the Desal Prize Competition
GSA Video (the agency that provides us with Challenge.gov) Overview of 4 Years of Prize Competitions on Challenge.gov
Our Water Prize Competition Center crowd sourcing pavilion:
Our Water Prize Competition webpage:

Challenges Celebrates 4 Years – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YryUplWQDR0&authuser=0 


2015 Webinar #6 (6/25/2015) – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Upper Colorado Region, Reclamation Water Operations: How does it all work?

Malcolm Wilson, Chief of the Water Resources Group for Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Region will brief WestFAST on operations of the Upper Colorado Basin system and how Reclamation engages with state and local water users and other federal agencies in their water delivery. Malcolm’s Presentation (.pdf) ~2MB


2015 Webinar #5 (5/21/2015) – Western State Water Resources: Planning, Policy and Appropriation

Tony Willardson, Executive Director of the Western States Water Council presented WestFAST member and others with an overview of water allocation approaches and policies in western states. The Webinar was co-sponsored with WestFAST by the Western Regional Partnership’s Natural Resources Committee. The  WRP provides a proactive and collaborative framework for senior-policy level Federal, State and Tribal leadership to identify common goals and emerging issues in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah and to develop solutions that support WRP Partners and protect natural resources, while promoting sustainability, homeland security and military readiness.

Mr. Willardson presented

  • An overview of the WSWC mission
  • Information on the varying approaches to water right allocation in western states (with focus on the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah) and western states’ concepts of water supply and availability

You can view the presentation at this link.


2015 Webinar #4 (4/30/2015) – Selected Federal activities on hydraulic fracturing

briefing on three water-resource assessment areas on unconventional oil and gas development activities:

  • EPA study of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources: Jeanne Briskin (briskin.jeanne@epa.gov), Hydraulic Fracturing Research Coordinator, EPA Office of Research and Development (Click to view presentation)
  • Trends in water quality in areas of unconventional oil and gas development – Watershed/surface-water resources, Zach Bowen (bowenz@usgs.gov) Ecosystem Dynamics Branch, USGS Fort Collins Science Center (Click to view presentation)
  • Injection induced earthquakes, Bill Ellsworth (ellsworth@usgs.gov), USGS Earthquake Science Center Staff Director (Click to view presentation)

Links to discussed publications and products

EPA’s Homepage for the study of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources

Gallegos, T.J., and Varela, B.A., 2015, Trends in hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010—Data analysis and comparison to the literature: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014–5131, 15 p.,

Gallegos, T.J., and Varela, B.A., 2015, Data regarding hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 868, 11 p

W. L. Ellsworth, Injection Induced Earthquakes, Science 341, 1225942 (2013).
DOI: 10.1126/science.1225942


2015 Webinar #3 (3/26/2015) – Open Water Data

Briefing on activities of the ACWI Subcommittee on Spatial Water Data (SSWD) and the Drought Use Case Work Group. Al Rea, USGS/SSWD and Angela Adams, Reclamation Lower Colorado, Special Assistant to the Regional Director presented. (Links to SSWD presentation)


2015 Webinar #2 (2/26/2015) –  NRCS Snow Survey, Water Supply Program, and the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN)

Mike Strobel (WestFAST), Director of NRCS’s National Water and Climate Center in Portland, Oregon will be our presented. (Link to webinar presentation)


2015 Webinar #1 (1/29/2015) – NIDIS – The Next Generation

Roger Pulwarty (WestFAST), Director, National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and Kevin Werner (WestFAST), NOAA National Climate Data Center Western Regional Climate Services Director presented NIDIS accomplishments and future directions. (Link to webinar presentation)