Adaptive Regulation of the Northern California Reservoir System for Water, Energy, and Environmental Management

Monday, 15 December 2014: 12:00 PM
Aris P. Georgakakos1, Martin Kistenmacher1, Huaming Yao1 and Konstantine P Georgakakos2, (1)Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Atlanta, GA, United States, (2)Hydrologic Research Center, San Diego, CA, United States
The 2014 National Climate Assessment of the US Global Change Research Program emphasizes that water resources managers and planners in most US regions will have to cope with new risks, vulnerabilities, and opportunities, and recommends the development of adaptive capacity to effectively respond to the new water resources planning and management challenges. In the face of these challenges, adaptive reservoir regulation is becoming all the more ncessary.

Water resources management in Northern California relies on the coordinated operation of several multi-objective reservoirs on the Trinity, Sacramento, American, Feather, and San Joaquin Rivers. To be effective, reservoir regulation must be able to (a) account for forecast uncertainty; (b) assess changing tradeoffs among water uses and regions; and (c) adjust management policies as conditions change; and (d) evaluate the socio-economic and environmental benefits and risks of forecasts and policies for each region and for the system as a whole.

The Integrated Forecast and Reservoir Management (INFORM) prototype demonstration project operated in Northern California through the collaboration of several forecast and management agencies has shown that decision support systems (DSS) with these attributes add value to stakeholder decision processes compared to current, less flexible management practices. Key features of the INFORM DSS include: (a) dynamically downscaled operational forecasts and climate projections that maintain the spatio-temporal coherence of the downscaled land surface forcing fields within synoptic scales; (b) use of ensemble forecast methodologies for reservoir inflows; (c) assessment of relevant tradeoffs among water uses on regional and local scales; (d) development and evaluation of dynamic reservoir policies with explicit consideration of hydro-climatic forecast uncertainties; and (e) focus on stakeholder information needs.

This article discusses the INFORM integrated design concept, underlying methodologies, and selected applications with the California water resources system.