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Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is an important area for waterfowl production and migratory stopover in west-central Montana. Eight wetland units covering about 5,600 acres are the essential features of the refuge. Water availability for the wetland units can be uncertain owing to the large natural variations in precipitation and runoff and the high cost of pumping supplemental water. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has developed a digital model for planning water management. The model can simulate strategies for water transfers among the eight wetland units and account for variability in runoff and pumped water. This report describes this digital model, which uses a water-accounting spreadsheet to track inputs and outputs to each of the wetland units of Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Inputs to the model include (1) monthly values for precipitation, pumped water, runoff, and evaporation; (2) water-level/capacity data for each wetland unit; and (3) the pan-evaporation coefficient. Outputs include monthly water volume and flooded surface area for each unit for as many as 5 consecutive years. The digital model was calibrated by comparing simulated and historical measured water volumes for specific test years.
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A digital model for planning water management at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, west-central Montana