Budget To Fund Atmospheric River Research

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, announced today the 2019-20 state budget will include $9.25 million in funding for research to better understand and forecast atmospheric rivers, leading to improved flood control and water retention in a state grappling with the effects of climate change and chronic drought.

“This is a smart investment to protect our precious water resources in the most efficient way possible,” Sen. Dodd said. “It will give our state the additional tools it needs to forecast extreme rain and control how much water we save as we face increasingly unpredictable conditions brought on by global warming.”

The funding, which is expected to be approved by the Legislature this week, will allow the Department of Water Resources to research how it can better forecast the intensity and landfall locations of atmospheric rivers. About half of the state’s annual rainfall and 90 percent of its flooding come from such events. Water managers may use the forecasts to retain water they would otherwise release, resulting in a cost savings and a more reliable water supply, while preserving and enhancing flood control capabilities.

Sen. Dodd advocated for the funding along with a coalition of state water agencies, including Sonoma Water, which have been studying the phenomena of atmospheric rivers as part of their water management strategies. In addition to engaging Gov. Newsom’s team, Sen. Dodd worked with the Legislature’s budget committees to secure the funding, along with Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, and others.

“This critical state funding of $9.25 million is needed to accelerate research and improved decision-making tools such as Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations, enabling water suppliers to more accurately track, monitor and respond to major storm events,” said Grant Davis, general manager of Sonoma Water.

“This essential investment in public safety and sustainable water management shows true leadership, and is vitally important as California works to address the challenges of climate change.” Curt Aikens, Yuba Water Agency general manager. 

"The Orange County Water District is grateful to Sen. Dodd and Assemblymember Wood for their efforts in securing funding for Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations research," said district President Vicente Sarmiento.  "With better weather forecasting, an additional 20,000 acre-feet of storage space could be made available for storm water capture behind Prado Dam without impacting flood risk.  Doing so would allow OCWD to capture and use an additional 20,000 acre feet of storm water in a wet year which would otherwise drain to the Pacific Ocean.  That's enough water for 160,000 people."



Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/dodd.