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Workshop to Explore Improved Water Management Strategies for Lake Mendocino

September 19, 2014

Researchers from HMT in Boulder, CO participated in a workshop to discuss strategies for improved water management for the Lake Mendocino reservoir in California’s Russian River watershed. The ongoing drought in California has highlighted the need for an integrated approach to water management, especially in the Russian where competing demands for flood protection, water supplies, fisheries, agriculture, and recreation are pushing the system to it’s limits. The fact that the reservoir is operated by different agencies with different responsibilities for flood protection and water supply makes it challenging to meet all demands in the watershed.

The workshop was hosted at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA August 4-6 and included participants from across NOAA (OAR, NWS, and NMFS) as well as other federal, and state agencies and regional stakeholders. At issue is how improved forecasts of rainfall (or lack of rainfall) can be used to better manage the release of water from Lake Mendocino. The main goal of the workshop was to create a draft work plan for an inter-agency “proof of concept” feasibility project to develop and demonstrate “Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations” (FIRO) for Lake Mendocino including associated benefits. If successful, the plan could be applied to other reservoirs across the west facing similar challenges.

Contact: Rob Cifelli

Lake Mendocino in February 2014
Lake Mendocino in February 2014 (Credit: Cal OES)
Lake Mendocino in February 2014 (Credit: Cal OES)