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FIRO at Prado Dam, If Employed, Can Improve Groundwater in Orange County: Report Reveal

FIRO at Prado Dam, If Employed, Can Improve Groundwater in Orange County: Report Reveal

Riverside County, California: According to the Prado Dam FIRO Final Viability Assessment report, operators can improve the amount of stormwater temporarily stored behind the dam and later released at a rate that allows recharge into the Orange County groundwater basin, thereby improving the water supply, by using planning tools.

Because FIRO provides advanced atmospheric river (AR) forecasting, it is possible to optimize stormwater capture at Prado Dam. Forecasts such as these are essential for California’s management of flood risks as well as beneficial precipitation.

Benefits of the Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) at Prado Dam are demonstrated in a recent report. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Orange County Water District (OCWD), and the Centre for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego collaborated to develop this novel approach, which has the potential to completely transform the management of water resources.

The Prado Dam FIRO project’s success serves as an example of the effectiveness of creative approaches to water management and establishes a standard for similar creative solutions in other USACE reservoirs around the country.

The FIRO strategy will be tested at Prado Dam over the coming years following the completion of this Final Viability Assessment, to integrate it into the operations of the dam permanently by 2027.

“This FVA represents the second completed FIRO assessment, and like the first, demonstrates the positive impacts of using atmospheric river forecasts to enhance operational flexibility at a major dam,” said Marty Ralph, Chief Scientist for the FIRO National Expansion Pathfinder and Director of CW3E.

Michael Anderson said, “The Prado Dam FIRO project is an example of how multiple agencies can collaborate to collectively explore the potential of emerging technologies and improved forecasts and create an adaptive strategy with multiple benefits for water management in a changing climate.” He is the state climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources.

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