Category: Planning & Management

375669 - Climate Adaptation of Reservoir Control Policies Incorporating Water Supply Forecasts to Balance Agricultural-Environmental Tradeoffs

Monday, Jun 4
8:30 AM – 5:30 PM

In the face of climate change, California’s ability to effectively manage its water resource systems under severe hydrologic uncertainty will be tested. To meet future agricultural, environmental, and urban water demands, significant adaptation is necessary to prepare for future climate scenarios, including projected changes in precipitation frequency, magnitude, and phase. These uncertainties reduce the effectiveness of current reservoir control policies in future flood and drought management; a flexible and inexpensive adaptation strategy is the revision of long-standing control policies to be robust to future uncertainty. This study examines the use of feedback-driven hydrologic forecasting coupled with direct policy search methods to meet California’s future water demands. Our analysis utilizes the newly constructed ORCA (Operation of Reservoirs in CAlifornia) simulation model, which incorporates operation of major reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada and management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. We represent control policies as binary trees mapping observed hydrologic information, such as streamflow and snowpack, to release decisions. Control policies are developed using a simulation-optimization technique for each element of the multi-reservoir system under GCM generated hydrologic scenarios. We then analyze the robustness of the resulting agricultural-environmental demand tradeoffs under these conditions. This policy driven approach to operation of the multi-reservoir system highlights methods to adapt to uncertainties and mitigate risks while balancing these tradeoffs. Ultimately, results serve as a template for climate adaptation of reservoir control policies in California and similar water-stressed regions given the integration of forecasting processes, reservoir operations, and tradeoffs between water supplies for agriculture and the environment.

Jonathan S. Cohen

University of California, Davis
Davis, California

Jonathan D. Herman

Assistant Professor
University of California, Davis

Harrison B. Zeff

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Carrboro, North Carolina

My name is Harrison Zeff, and I am a recent PhD graduate from the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, I have lived in Detroit, Michigan, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Tianjin, China, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Bozeman, Montana and Madison, Wisconsin.