Monday Morning Briefing

Monday Morning Briefing

Senate Committee Examines Water Management Strategies

The Senate Water and Power Subcommittee last week heard testimony from AMWA member Sonoma County Water Agency and other water sector stakeholders on improving water supply security and drought preparedness through infrastructure, reservoir management and innovation. According to subcommittee Chairman Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) the hearing was intended to “investigate areas for west-wide improvements including reducing regulatory burdens and making better use of existing water infrastructure.”

Among the witnesses was Shirlee Zane, Chairwoman of the Sonoma County Water Agency.  Zane’s testimony requested two reforms to improve water management in California, starting with updating reservoir rule curves from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reflect new hydrologic data, scientific information and improved forecasting.  Zane testified that modernizing the rule curves would improve management of dual-purpose reservoirs and avoid situations where thousands of acre-feet of water must be released to preserve flood control capacity even in the absence of forecasted precipitation.  Additionally, Zane said Western water managers would benefit from improved forecasting of precipitation events beyond 10-14 days in advance.  Such improved long-range forecasts would allow water managers to better take advantage of rains that accompany atmospheric rivers – a phenomenon that can deliver about half of California’s yearly rainfall through only a handful of storms.

Copies of all the witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing are available online.