Improved Regional Water Management Utilizing Climate Forecasts: An Inter-basin Transfer Model with a Risk Management Framework

Monday, 15 December 2014
Weihua Li, Sankarasubramanian Arumugam, Ranji S Ranjithan and E Downey Brill Jr, NC State University, Raleigh, NC, United States
Regional water supply systems undergo surplus and deficit conditions due to differences in inflow characteristics as well as due to their seasonal demand patterns. This study presents a framework for regional water management by proposing an Inter-Basin Transfer (IBT) model that uses climate-information-based inflow forecast for minimizing the deviations from the end- of-season target storage across the participating reservoirs. Using the ensemble streamflow forecast, the IBT water allocation model was applied for two reservoir systems in the North Carolina Triangle area. Results show that inter-basin transfers initiated by the ensemble streamflow forecast could potentially improve the overall water supply reliability as the demand continues to grow in the Triangle Area. To further understand the utility of climate forecasts in facilitating IBT under different spatial correlation structures between inflows and between the initial storages of the two systems, a synthetic experiment was designed to evaluate the framework under inflow forecast having different skills. Findings from the synthetic study can be summarized as follows: (a) Inflow forecasts combined with the proposed IBT optimization model provide improved allocation in comparison to the allocations obtained under the no- transfer scenario as well as under transfers obtained with climatology; (b) Spatial correlations between inflows and between initial storages among participating reservoirs could also influence the potential benefits that could be achieved through IBT; (c) IBT is particularly beneficial for systems that experience low correlations between inflows or between initial storages or on both attributes of the regional water supply system. Thus, if both infrastructure and permitting structures exist for promoting inter-basin transfers, season-ahead inflow forecasts could provide added benefits in forecasting surplus/deficit conditions among the participating reservoirs in the regional water supply system.