The San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA) is partnering with the renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to better predict atmospheric rivers and optimize water management before, during and after California’s ever-changing seasonal storms.
Atmospheric river storms produce 40%-60% of the West Coast’s annual precipitation and are responsible for the majority of flood damage in the region. Predicting and managing this is challenging due to unpredictable and changing snowmelt and rainfall.
To study this, Scripps’ Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) introduced the Water Affiliates Group, which brings together relevant science and water industry expertise to enhance reservoir operations along with California’s changing climate.
“This partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography underscores our commitment to strategic, science-based decision-making and long-term planning,” said SDCWA Board of Directors Chairperson Jim Madaffer. “By supporting advances in forecasting, we can more efficiently and effectively manage water resources both local and statewide. This ultimately will benefit everyone in California by helping sustain our economy and quality of life.”
The Water Authority is working with CW3E to assess how better near-term and long-term precipitation forecasts can improve reservoir planning and operational management in the San Diego region by maximizing local water supplies and the reliability of water resources through a mix of planning processes and real-time decisions.
Other SoCal water authorities joining as founding partners are Orange County Water District and Irvine Ranch Water District. Once finalized, CW3E and its partners will share their findings of best practices in forecast-informed reservoir operations and management of atmospheric rivers and droughts and develop strategies for reducing flood risk and increasing consistent water supply.
San Diego County Water Authority General Manager Sandra L Keri stated that this collaboration is a “great example of how water agencies are stronger together by addressing major climate challenges that affect everyone across the arid west. By combining forces with some of the leading scientists in the world, we will enhance our planning capacity and be ready to adapt to whatever the future brings.”
She also stated that this partnership speaks to Gov. Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio, which encourages voluntary agreements, smart water storage strategies and coordination of data collection.
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