System reoperation

Shasta Dam SliderboxChanging existing operations and management procedures for water project operations, referred to as  system reoperation, can yield numerous benefits such as increasing yield, enhancing system reliability and efficiency, buffering against the impacts of climate change, and restoring and protecting ecosystems.

Toolbox Main Page IconMuch of the California’s infrastructure was developed in the 20th century and it was not designed or built to be operated as part of an integrated water supply and flood management system.  However, state’s water supply and flood control systems are inextricably linked from practically the northern border to the southern border through physical interconnections and coordinated management arrangements.  This reality means that changes in water management in one location can have consequences throughout the rest of the system; it also means that there are opportunities for improving water resource benefits statewide by through optimization.

System reoperation refers to changing the existing operation and management procedures of existing water facilities with the goal of increasing water resources related benefits from the system, usually by addressing a specific problem or need, improving efficiencies, or adapting the facility to anticipated future changes.  Reoperation is considered an alternative to constructing new facilities, although some modifications of existing facilities may be needed.  The concept of system reoperation can be applied at all scales, from individual facilities or components to an entire integrated water management system.

System reoperation can involve improving existing facilities to meet needs more efficiently and reliably, or it may seek to prioritize one system need over another.  In some cases, changes to the water rights or regulatory framework may be required.

In 2008, the Legislature passed and Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB X2 1, which among other things, authorized and provided funding for studies to identify options for reoperation of the state’s water infrastructure in order to optimize the use of existing facilities and groundwater storage capacity.  As a result, the Department of Water Resources is currently conducting studies to identify and evaluate potential operations strategies for reoperation of the State’s flood protection and water supply systems. These reoperation strategies will be assessed on their ability to improve water supply reliability, reduce flood hazards, and provide ecosystem protection and restoration.

The study has identified four potential reoperation strategies: the reoperation of Shasta and Oroville reservoirs, reoperation of New Exchequer Dam at Lake McClure, and integration of SWP and CVP operations.  The study is considering the use of forecast-based operations, enhancing conjunctive management, integrating operations between multiple reservoirs, and providing environmental flows such as floodplain inundation, spring pulse flows, and flows coordinated with fish hatchery operations.

CWP System Reoperation CoverCurrently, the study is in phase 3, which involves preliminary assessments of the four strategies to evaluate and rank strategies on their ability to meet the stated goals and objectives of the system reoperation study.  In the last phase, more detailed assessments of the strategies carried forward will be made, including evaluating costs and benefits, quantifying economic benefits, developing conceptual designs for facility modifications, identifying institutional challenges, and identifying funding and key steps necessary for implementation.

Click here to read this resource management strategy from the California Water Plan.

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Helpful documents and websites …

More on reservoir reoperation from Maven’s Notebook …

  • Update on DWR's Reservoir Reoperation Study Posted on: July 13, 2016
    DWR’s Ajay Goyal tells the Delta Stewardship Council that there are benefits to reoperation of the state’s system, but they look to be limited Senate Bill X2 1, passed in 2008,  allocated resources for the planning and feasibility studies to identify potential options for the reoperation of the state’s flood protection and water supply systems that would optimize the use [...]
  • California Water Commission: A progress report on DWR's System Reoperation Study Posted on: October 30, 2014
    At the October meeting of the California Water Commission, Ajay Goyal, Chief of the Department of Water Resources Surface Storage Investigations branch, briefed Commission members on the status of the Department’s System Reoperation Study. The study, mandated by SB X2 1 in 2008, seeks to identify potential strategies for the reoperation of statewide flood protection and water supply systems that [...]
  • Congressman Jared Huffman introduces bill to modernize Army Corps of Engineers reservoir operations Posted on: February 5, 2014
    From the Office of Congressman Jared Huffman: Responding to the record drought in California and the need to improve long-term water planning, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today introduced a bill to bring Army Corps reservoir operations in line with modern science, save water, and help communities through extreme weather events, like droughts. The Army Corps of Engineers operates many [...]
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