ERG Assesses Economic Benefits of Innovative Water Management Approach for the Western U.S.

A hotel building is half-concealed by brown floodwater in a wooded area.

ERG supported the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Sonoma Water in their assessment of the economic benefits of alternative reservoir operations at Lake Mendocino in California’s Russian River Watershed. Specifically, ERG developed and implemented a methodology to estimate the benefits at Lake Mendocino of Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), a management approach that uses modern forecasting skill to more flexibly determine when and how much water to release from the reservoir. ERG also created a user-friendly economic decision support tool (DST) that can help water managers at other reservoirs estimate the benefits of alternative reservoir operations, including estimating the benefits to irrigation and agricultural water supply, municipal and industrial water supply, hydropower, fisheries, and recreation. To test transferability of the DST, ERG held workshops with stakeholders of Prosser Reservoir in the Truckee River Watershed. The report, DST, and fact sheet are available online through Reclamation’s WaterSMART site.

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