Benefits of an Advanced Quantitative Precipitation Information System - San Francisco Bay Area Case Study

Monday, 15 December 2014
Lynn E Johnson1, Robert Cifelli2 and Allen B White2, (1)Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Fort Collins, CO, United States, (2)Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Science Division, Boulder, CO, United States
Advancements in monitoring and prediction of precipitation and severe storms can provide significant benefits for water resource managers, allowing them to mitigate flood damage risks, capture additional water supplies and offset drought impacts, and enhance ecosystem services.
A case study for the San Francisco Bay area provides the context for quantification of the benefits of an Advanced Quantitative Precipitation Information (AQPI) system. The AQPI builds off more than a decade of NOAA research and applications of advanced precipitation sensors, data assimilation, numerical models of storms and storm runoff, and systems integration for real-time operations. An AQPI would dovetail with the current National Weather Service forecast operations to provide higher resolution monitoring of rainfall events and longer lead time forecasts.
A regional resource accounting approach has been developed to quantify the incremental benefits assignable to the AQPI system; these benefits total to $35 M/yr in the 9 county Bay region. Depending on the jurisdiction large benefits for flood damage avoidance may accrue for locations having dense development in flood plains. In other locations forecst=based reservoir operations can increase reservoir storage for water supplies. Ecosystem services benefits for fisheries may be obtained from increased reservoir storage and downstream releases. Benefits in the transporation sectors are associated with increased safety and avoided delays. Compared to AQPI system implementation and O&M costs over a 10 year operations period, a benefit – cost (B/C) ratio is computed which ranges between 2.8 to 4. It is important to acknowledge that many of the benefits are dependent on appropriate and adequate response by the hazards and water resources management agencies and citizens.