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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #260558

Title: Instrumenting Wildlife Water Developments to Measure Precipitation and Estimate Runoff in Remote Catchments

item GRANT, NICHOLAS - University Of Nevada
item SAITO, LAUREL - University Of Nevada
item Weltz, Mark
item WALKER, MARK - University Of Nevada
item STEWART, KELLEY - University Of Nevada

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/5/2009
Publication Date: 2/7/2010
Citation: Grant, N., Saito, L., Weltz, M.A., Walker, M., Stewart, K. 2010. Instrumenting Wildlife Water Developments to Measure Precipitation and Estimate Runoff in Remote Catchments [abstract]. Proceedings of the Joint Federal Interagency Conference 2010. p. 120.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In Nevada, available data on precipitation and runoff in remote catchments are extremely limited. The National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observer Network (COOP) includes 178 weather stations, most of which collect precipitation data and qualitative weather observations. Most of these stations are located in or near populated areas, which means that no observations are available for large areas of the state. More than 1500 wildlife water developments, commonly called “guzzlers,” are distributed throughout the state, with many installed in areas where precipitation data are lacking. Guzzlers are designed to capture rainwater and/or snowmelt to provide wildlife with water during dry periods. Some also capture surface runoff. Because of their design and location, guzzlers could significantly augment precipitation data, especially in unpopulated, remote, rural areas where precipitation records are sparse or nonexistent. This study is investigating the feasibility of installing instrumentation at guzzlers to collect rainfall, runoff and water level data. A demonstration site has been constructed at the Nevada Department of Wildlife in Reno, and two pilot field sites have been selected in the Peterson Range north of Reno and in the Smoke Creek watershed northeast of Reno. A variety of instruments designed to measure rainfall, water level, water flow and air temperature were selected for testing. All instruments were tested at high and low temperature extremes that could be observed in remote Nevada catchments. Instruments designed to measure rainfall and water flow were tested at rainfall intensities that could be observed at the field sites. Observational data, collected at the field sites, as well as findings on instrument performance and accuracy before and after exposure to extreme temperatures are presented in this preliminary report. At the completion of this pilot study, recommendations will be made to agencies involved with the installation and maintenance of wildlife guzzlers as to how they can best utilize available funds to instrument wildlife guzzlers, further improving precipitation gauge coverage in the state of Nevada.