• by Six-Member Coalition
  • Jun 14, 2019
  • Water News

FOUNTAIN VALLEY – The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) will receive
$9.25 million toward funding for research into atmospheric rivers in the California Legislature’s 2019-’20 budget.

A coalition of California water agencies that included the Orange County Water District (OCWD), Sonoma Water, San Diego County Water Authority, Turlock Water and Power, Yuba Water Agency, and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), was developed in 2018 to gain state funding for research to improve observations, forecasts and decision support of atmospheric river (AR) precipitation events in California. The appropriation, sponsored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblymember Jim Wood (DSanta Rosa), will fund the Atmospheric Rivers: Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program (AR Program) at DWR.

Atmospheric rivers provide 30-50% of California’s annual precipitation and cause 90% of the flood events throughout the state. “Sonoma Water is pleased to have joined this coalition to support critical state funding to accelerate atmospheric river research and improved decision-making tools such as Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO). This funding will enable water managers to more accurately track, monitor and respond to major storm events, such as the flooding that took place in Sonoma County earlier this year,” said
Grant Davis, general manager of Sonoma Water.

The coalition is working with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University California, San Diego to study atmospheric rivers to improve forecasting of these all-important storm events. This work has been supported by an early investment of $3 million appropriated by the California Legislature three years ago in the 2016-’17 budget to study atmospheric rivers.

This additional funding will further atmospheric river science and improve forecasting tools. Enhanced forecasting of atmospheric rivers will support FIRO which allows reservoir operators and water suppliers to better predict how much precipitation from atmospheric rivers can be retained in reservoirs, thus enabling more efficient capture and use of stormwater. FIRO refers to a proposed management strategy to use modern weather forecasting, runoff modeling and watershed monitoring to help water managers selectively
retain or release water from reservoirs in a manner that reflects current and forecasted conditions.

“The legislative leadership demonstrated on this issue is essential to ensuring a better understanding of atmospheric river patterns, which could potentially inform the Water Authority and its member agencies of new reservoir operations opportunities to improve water capture and flood protection throughout the San Diego region,” said Sandra Kerl, acting general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority.

This has implications for reservoirs operated around the state, including Oroville and Prado Dam. “The Orange County Water District is grateful to Senator Dodd and Assemblymember Wood for their efforts in securing funding for FIRO research,” stated Vicente Sarmiento, president of OCWD. “With better weather forecasting, an additional 20,000 acre-feet of storage space could be made available for stormwater capture behind Prado Dam without impacting flood risk. Doing so would allow OCWD to capture and use an additional 20,000 acrefeet or 6.5 billion gallons of stormwater in a wet year which would otherwise drain to the Pacific Ocean. That’s enough water for 160,000 people.”

“This essential investment in public safety and sustainable water management shows true leadership and is vitally important as California works to address the challenges of climate change,” said Curt Aikens, general manager of Yuba Water Agency.

Scripps and the coalition have also embarked on a multi-phase federal scoping study in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess the viability of using FIRO for reservoirs in the southwest United States, where the majority of rainfall often occurs in three to four storms per year.

Many members of the coalition have worked to optimize the amount of water stored behind reservoirs and dams to recharge as much of the limited rainfall as possible into groundwater basins and reservoirs. Large rainfall events caused by atmospheric rivers are a major source of water supply in Southern California.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Comment Letter: ACWA and CMUA Comment Letter on the Draft Adminsitrator Policy Handbook

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA Recommendations to Newsom Administration for the Water Resilience Portfolio

Agency: California Natural Resources Agency Subject: Water Resilience Portfolio Letter Excerpt: The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) appreciates the […]

Water Professionals Appreciation Week Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Federal Legislative Matrix

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

September 2019 Federal Regulatory Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

COMMENT LETTER: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Proposed Drinking Water Standard: Perchlorate

Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Subject: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Proposed Drinking Water Standard: Perchlorate Letter excerpt:  The regulatory determination […]

PFAS Communications and Education Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Presentations and Resources from Aug. 7, 2019 Agriculture Committee Meetings

A Proposed Methodology for Quantifying the Efficiency of Agricultural Water Use AWMP Guidebook Working Group AB 1668 Draft Drought Plan […]

Integrated Regional Water Management Policy Principles

On July 26, 2019, the ACWA Board of Directors adopted new policy principles on Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) in […]

ACWA Comment Letter on Notification Levels for PFOA, PFOS

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water Subject: Notification Levels and Response Levels for PFOA and PFOS […]

Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

July 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA and CMUA Comment Letter on the Drinking Water Needs Assessment Conceptual Plan

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA Dues Automation Process Webinar

ACWA has a recording available of the webinar on the new Dues Automation Process. The purpose of this recording is to assist […]

ACWA 2019 Spring Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2019 Spring Conference & Exhibition held May 7-10 in Monterey are available below. Please note that this […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA Comments on Gov. Newsom’s Plan to Veto SB 1

SACRAMENTO – ACWA President Brent Hastey is issuing the following statement in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that he […]

OCWD Approves Final Expansion of GRWS

FOUNTAIN VALLEY –– The Orange County Water District (OCWD) Board of Directors has voted to award the contract to construct […]

West Basin Completes Recycled Water Pump Station Improvements

CARSON – The West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin) today announced its recycled water Pump Station Improvements Project, which […]

ACWA Advocates at Inaugural SB 100 Workshop on Energy Goals

ACWA staff attended a Sept. 5 inaugural Joint Agency Workshop on SB 100, continuing engagement with state leaders on SB […]

Hazardous Fire Fuels to be Reduced at EID Facilities

PLACERVILLE — The El Dorado Irrigation District (District) Board of Directors recently authorized funding of $1,219,620 for a Vegetation Management […]

SB 1 Places Our Environment and Economy at Risk. Let’s Fix It

Many water systems rely on certainty in the Delta to provide millions of Californians and businesses throughout the state with […]

ACWA Delivers Recommendations for Water Resilience Portfolio

ACWA has submitted its recommendations for the Newsom Administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio, highlighting a comprehensive set of recommendations that take […]

Moulton Niguel Honored for Excellence in Financial Reporting

For the tenth consecutive year, Moulton Niguel Water District has been honored by the Government Finance Officers Association for excellence […]

Frank Ury Appointed to Santa Margarita Water District Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of the Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD, The District) appointed Frank Ury to the Board of […]

Yuba Water Agency GM Wins ASCE 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award

MARYSVILLE — Honoring his outstanding efforts and professional achievements in civil engineering, Yuba Water Agency General Manager Curt Aikens this […]

Western adopts capital improvement plan

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District (Western) has built an innovative blueprint to guide work on 93 capital projects District-wide […]

DWA Launches New Rebates

PALM SPRINGS – Desert Water Agency has new and easier rebates to help customers save water and money. These incentives […]

Oct. 11 Registration Deadline for 2019 Regulatory Summit

ACWA’s ninth annual Regulatory Summit on Oct. 17 in Sacramento will become the place and time to get fully up […]

Helix Water District helps restore water system in Paradise

Helix Water District sent four operations employees to Paradise, the northern California town leveled by the Camp Fire in November […]

Mesa Water District Director Selected As Vice Chair Of O.C. Housing Commission

COSTA MESA — Mesa Water District (Mesa Water®) Director James R. (“Jim”) Fisler was selected to be Vice Chair of […]