State Auditor Points Out Inadequacies with California Water Management

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Water

A recent report highlights a multitude of shortfalls in California water management. An audit was conducted on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Resources Control Board in its administration of water supplies. Several areas were highlighted as needing improvement. State Auditor Grant Parks said DWR’s forecasting models inadequacies have already resulted in miscalculations of water supplies during drought periods.

California Water Management

“We determined that DWR has made only limited progress in accounting for the effects of climate change in its forecasts of the water supply and in its planning for the operation of the State Water Project,” Parks explained in the report. “Until it makes more progress, DWR will be less prepared than it could be to effectively manage the State’s water resources in the face of more extreme climate conditions.”

In the review of 2020 records, the auditor found that DWR released 153,000 acre feet of water from Lake Oroville. The amount of water was about twice what was necessary under the Fish and Wildlife agreement. Parks asserts that DWR does not provide sufficient documentation supporting reasons for certain reservoir releases. The lack of documentation, the audit states, impedes DWR’s ability to ensure maximum efficiency State Water Project.

The audit lays out several actions that would help improve California water management. Recommendations include annual evaluations of the accuracy of DWR’s monthly forecasts and updating information used for determining reservoir operations. Parks also recommends DWR update its water supply forecasting model to incorporate climate conditions.

DWR largely disagrees with the findings noted in the report. DWR Director Karla Nemeth explained in a published response that they are already working on issues highlighted in the report. However, Nemeth said that “no amount of paperwork will solve the challenges of climate change.” She also pointed out that many of the “report recommendations would layer additional processes and procedures on reservoir operations.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West