Wednesday January 18, 2023

California Department of Water Resources

As California experiences more extreme swings between wet and dry periods, it is critical for the State to deploy innovative forecasting and water management strategies to adapt to our changing climate.

The Department of Water Resources along with federal and local water agencies, have developed a Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) program to take advantage of scientific improvements in forecasting atmospheric rivers to better anticipate and manage large storm events while maximizing opportunities to increase water supply. Atmospheric rivers like those we’ve seen in January 2023 have a profound impact on water management in California.

DWR, in coordination with Yuba Water Agency, UC San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are now working together on this critical public safety initiative at two locations: Lake Oroville and New Bullards Bar.

Implementing FIRO at these two reservoirs impacting the Yuba and Feather rivers allows for coordinated, early releases of water in advance of strong atmospheric rivers, creating additional reservoir capacity to manage incoming inflows. Additionally, there is potential to improve water supply reliability and increase hydropower generation, both valuable assets.

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