Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on the report of the viability of Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) at Lake Mendocino:
“The report on Lake Mendocino shows that with modern forecasting tools, we can better manage California’s water supply to meet our state’s needs. The Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations program, or FIRO, allowed the Army Corps of Engineers to save 20 percent more water at Lake Mendocino compared to traditional forecasting methods.
“FIRO uses state-of-the-art technology to better track atmospheric rivers – storms which provide nearly half of California’s precipitation, to better predict our weather patterns and in turn, manage our reservoirs. When we know what types of storms are coming, we can predict with much great accuracy when we have to release water and when we can maintain reservoir levels.
“FIRO’s success at Lake Mendocino is exactly what we hoped might happen at the program’s inception. I commend Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Army Corps of Engineers, local water agencies and their partners that have worked collaboratively to improve forecasting and water supply management.
“Climate change is already increasing the frequency and severity of California’s droughts. We have to find new ways to save more water from the wet years to provide for the dry ones, and FIRO is key to doing just that. This report shows why we should be looking for ways to expand this program throughout the West.”
- Senator Feinstein secured $30.5 million in federal funding to improve the federal government’s ability to observe and prepare for West Coast weather storms known as “atmospheric rivers,” which are responsible for 50 percent of the annual rainfall and 90 percent of the flood events in California.
- FIRO is a flexible water management approach that uses data from watershed monitoring and improved weather forecasting to help water managers selectively retain or release water from reservoirs for increased resilience to droughts and floods. It was first utilized at Lake Mendocino in 2019.
- Click here to read the full report on the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations program at Lake Mendocino.