J Ta, TR Kelsey, JK Howard, JR Lund, S Sandoval-Solis, JH Viers. Simulation Modeling to Secure Environmental Flows in a Diversion Modified Flow Regime. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management 142 (11), 05016010

This paper describes the development and application of a spreadsheet model to evaluate effects of water management on diversion modified flow regimes, enabling the exploration of novel ways to meet proposed environmental flow standards. Mill Creek, a northern California river with an altered flow regime that impacts aquatic species, was used as a case study. Test cases examined how water management alternatives, such as groundwater pumping, water rights transfers, and water exchange agreements, can improve environmental flow allocations given irrigation water demands. Four test cases include passage flows for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout, a minimum instream flow, 80% of natural flow, and a spring recession flow with functional flow components. The model identified late October as consistently water-scarce, even in wet years. These analyses suggest that fall shortages for fish migration could be eliminated through a water exchange agreement combined with use of wells. All cases except the minimum fish passage flow case required acquisition of the largest water rights to decrease environmental shortages by over 80%, with a substantial curtailment in irrigation.