A new update to SEI’s Water Evaluation and Planning System (WEAP ) layers climate data over existing water basin maps and allows users to run more water and policy scenarios in a fraction of the previous time.

These and dozens of other updates were rolled out in July 2021 and are now available for all users to download.

“With more than 100 large and small improvements, this version of WEAP is the best ever,” said Jack Sieber, SEI US Technology Officer and WEAP developer. “It is faster and more accurate, comprehensive and reliable, with improved analysis, visualization and model-building tools.”

WEAP is an integrated software tool that assists in water resources planning. To optimize water resource allocation, it incorporates factors such as water use patterns, equipment efficiencies, stream flow and several more natural and engineered characteristics of any given water basin. It can be used at a local, regional and national scale.

The software advances SEI’s mission to promote sustainable water management by providing tools that support well-informed policy. Today, 40 000 users in 193 countries use WEAP to support water planning in their own regions.

The new feature that includes the climate map gives users a detailed look at the climate variability throughout a given water basin, allowing planners to see an additional set of factors that can affect water allocation. SEI is working with the Colorado Springs Utility to use the new high-resolution climate data and a WEAP model for short-term operational planning.

WEAP’s new ability to run many scenarios at once could be a “game changer”, Sieber said. This will help users with complex models or a large number of scenarios to calculate. For example, for an SEI project in Quito, Ecuador, users employing the beta version of this feature were able to calculate 240 different WEAP scenarios in three hours instead of the two weeks the previous version of WEAP would have required.

“This capability will allow researchers and policy makers to explore a much wider range of alternatives and uncertainties than before,” Sieber said.

Other important updates include:

  • New groundwater modules that open WEAP to new areas of research, such as quantifying the dangers of seawater intrusion into groundwater supplies from overpumping. This is already being used by researchers and policymakers in Chile.
  • Additions to the application programming interface that enable more advanced control for those who want to link WEAP to other decision support systems or automate the WEAP model building and analysis process.
  • The addition of higher-resolution historical and forecast climate data for the US will lead to more accurate models for researchers trying to model the influence of a changing climate on a basin’s hydrology.

These improvements will help policymakers and stakeholders make informed decisions with even greater detail as they explore future scenarios and work toward achieving environmentally sound water policy.