System Reoperation Program

In 2008, the State Legislature authorized and directed the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to identify options for the reoperation of the state’s existing flood protection and water supply systems. The existing water supply systems are operated to meet the various regulatory requirements, contractual obligations, and operating rules.

We are conducting the System Reoperation Study (SRS) in cooperation with other state and federal agencies, local water districts, groundwater managers, and other stakeholders.

The study focuses on meeting the following objectives:

  • Improve the reliability of municipal and irrigation water supply.
  • Reduce flood hazards.
  • Restore and protect ecosystems.
  • Buffer the hydrologic variations expected from climate change.
  • Improve water quality.

California’s statewide water system comprises many local, state, and federal projects. These projects include dams and reservoirs, hydropower plants, canals, and water diversion structures. Many of these facilities were developed in the early to mid-20th century, and were not designed, constructed, or operated as an integrated water supply and flood management system. Over time, operations of the two largest water supply projects, the State Water Project (SWP), operated by DWR, and the Central Valley Project (CVP), operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), have started operating the systems in coordination.

The purpose of the system reoperation program and study is to identify opportunities for enhanced systems efficiencies through coordinated operations between the SWP and CVP and between water supply and flood management infrastructure. California can do much more with its existing water infrastructure by taking advantage of the physical interconnections (and enhancing them) while also operating the system in a coordinated manner to optimize the benefits.

The development of this study is a multi-phased effort that includes:

  • Phase I Report: Plan of Study (completed March 2011).
  • Phase II Report: Strategy Formulation and Refinement (completed February 2014).
  • Appendix A: Forecast Based Operations
  • Appendix B: Tradeoff Analysis
  • Phase III Report: Assessment of Reoperation Strategies
  • Appendix C: State Water Project and Central Valley Project – Integrated Operations Analysis
  • Appendix D: Ecosystem Evaluation

The next phase of the System Reoperation Study will evaluate the following:

  • Potential for using flood water for managed groundwater recharge on farmland and working landscapes for flood protection, drought preparedness, aquifer remediation, and ecosystem restoration.
  • Flood-MAR Factsheet
  • Flood-MAR White Paper
The following comments to the Flood-MAR white paper were received:
  • California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
  • Environmental Science Associates
  • Sustainable Conservation
  • USACE Hydrologic Engineering Center
  • Point Blue Conservation Science/Audubon California/Environmental Defense Fund/American Rivers/California Trout/River Partners/The Nature Conservancy/Sacramento River Preservation Trust
  • California Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board
  • Consultant - Strategic Groundwater Planning and Management
  • California Farm Bureau Federation
  • UC Water and Groundwater Resources Association Comments
  • Bachand Associates
  • Existing flood operating rules of the reservoirs under changing hydrology.
  • Feasibility of existing reservoir spillways and outlets to pass floodwater safely with changing hydrology.
  • Identification of system reoperation implementation challenges and opportunities.