Robust Water-Management Strategies for the California Water Plan Update 2013

Proof-of-Concept Analysis

by David G. Groves, Evan Bloom

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Research Questions

  1. How could Robust Decision Making be used to structure a quantitative analysis of water management strategies in the Central Valley under uncertainty for the California Water Plan Update 2013?
  2. How can the analysis address how California's current management baseline would perform under different plausible futures?
  3. How can the analysis help determine the vulnerabilities of the current management baseline?
  4. How can the analysis address how additional management strategies might reduce vulnerabilities of the current management baseline?
  5. How can the analysis help determine key trade-offs among response packages?

Abstract

California faces significant challenges in ensuring that its water resources successfully meet diverse needs across the state in the coming decades. Increasing needs due to population and economic growth, increasing agricultural irrigation requirements, and growing desires to dedicate more water to the environment will strain a system nearing or exceeding capacity. These challenges are exacerbated by potential declines in available water supply due to natural variability and climatic changes. How these long-term changes will unfold and affect California's water system is highly uncertain. Addressing the future uncertainty and diversity of needs requires a planning approach that is flexible and can support deliberations for different approaches, rather than a single prescription for how to move forward. The California Department of Water Resources' (DWR's) California Water Plan Update 2013 will describe current water management conditions, evaluate future challenges facing the California water sector, and discuss potential solutions. A technical analysis of water management response packages will also be developed. This report describes a proof-of-concept analysis using Robust Decision Making to evaluate water resource management response packages for California's Central Valley (the Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, and Tulare Lake hydrologic regions) under future uncertainty using models developed within the Water Evaluation And Planning environment. This analytic approach will be used to develop a more comprehensive analysis for the California Water Plan Update 2013. The analysis described in this report was presented to DWR's Statewide Water Analysis Network in May 2011.

Key Findings

The Proof-of-Concept Analysis Demonstrates That Robust Decision Making Could Support a Full Analysis for the Water Plan Update

  • This study illustrated a methodology through the development of a proof-of-concept analysis. As vetted by California Department of Water Resources staff and California Water Plan stakeholders, the Robust Decision Making methodology is a viable and useful approach for supporting a more comprehensive analysis for the California Water Plan Update 2013.

Recommendations

  • The Robust Decision Making methodology should be applied to the California Water Plan Update 2013.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    An Overview of Robust Decision Making

  • Chapter Three

    Scope of the Proof-of-Concept Analysis

  • Chapter Four

    Results: Vulnerability of the Current Management Baseline

  • Chapter Five

    Results: Mitigating Vulnerabilities Through Response Packages

  • Chapter Six

    Discussion

The research described in this report was prepared for the California Department of Water Resources and conducted in the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program within RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

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