Groves said agencies “are begin- ning to look at climate scenarios” and what it might do to their systems but are not yet making investment deci- sions based on those scenarios “which is probably good because it’s an iterative, diffi cult process to try to think how to develop a robust solution.” Refi ning climate data to the extent it is useful to water managers remains a work in progress, Jones said. “It’s not easy and it’s going to be a slow road to progress,” she said. “No one is expecting a great leap and a stunning discovery. It’s one of things where you are going to do a menu of different things to get incremental improvements.”
“Hard choices” exist about the philosophical approach to dealing with climate change, from solutions that are costly, big and centralized to “more decentralized, dispersed actions,” such as water conservation and rainwater harvesting, Groves said.
“I think in some respects those options … are more amenable to dealing with climate change, but in certain circumstances we are going to need to build things and augment our infrastructure to accommodate this challenge without a doubt,” he said. Advocates for increased surface
storage believe opportunities exist with projects such as Sites Reservoir, raising Shasta Dam or another expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir in Contra Costa County. Scheuring and others are “hopeful” for progress because the new projects have less environmental impact than their larger predecessors. Added surface storage “is wonder- ful,” Atwater said, “but in a long-term drought, we are going to need to tap into our groundwater reserves probably more than we’d like to, but that’s going to be our emergency drought supply.” According
to DWR, “future changes such as growing population and climate change
would be like and that understand- ing has changed, so we could see some overall societal gains by reoperation, although there will be winners and losers and therefore very likely law- suits.”
Hear a report from Southern California Public Radio
will likely require re-operation of the water storage system to adapt to these conditions and help meet California’s water needs.”
Re-operating reservoirs “is con- troversial because usually when you change something some will benefi t and some may not benefi t,” Groves said.
“It’s not controversial in terms of the need because the reservoirs were optimized in the past based on an understanding of what the conditions
Snowpack loss “will be ongoing over the long-term,” resulting in a “big change between what we have now and what we will have by the end of the century,” Jones said. While there is a “fairly long lead time to prepare,” it will nonetheless be a paradigm shift considering the way existing infrastruc- ture such as dams in Sierra Nevada were designed.
Because of that, it would seem
water managers will have to rely on adaptation to see their agencies through the coming changes, uncertain though they may be.
“My opinion is that our ability to forecast 20 to 40 years in the future is inherently limited,” Groves said. “I don’t think in 10 years we are going to have the perfect climate model that’s going to tell us this is what’s going to happen over the next 50 years. But we will learn over time how things are going.” ❖
Los Vaqueros Dam
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