Optimization of California's Water Supply System: Results and Insights

by Richard E. Howitt; Jay R. Lund; Stacy K. Tanaka; Marion W. Jenkins; Andrew J. Draper; Siwa M. Msangi; Randall S. Ritzema; Guilherme F. Marques

Jul 1, 2004
This paper presents results of a large-scale economic-engineering optimization model of California's water supply system. The results of this 4-year effort illustrate the value of optimization modeling for providing integrated information needed to manage a complex multipurpose water system. This information includes economic benefits of flexible operations, economic valuation of capacity expansion opportunities, estimating user willingness to pay for additional water, economic opportunity costs of environmental flows, and identification of promising conjunctive use and water transfer opportunities. The limitations of such modeling also are discussed. Overall, the results suggest improvements to system operation and water allocations with a statewide expected value potentially as high as $1.3 billion/year. Significant improvements in performance appear possible through water transfers and exchanges, conjunctive use, and various operational changes to increase flexibility. These changes also greatly reduce costs to agricultural and urban users of accommodating environmental requirements. Model results also suggest benefits for expanding selected conveyance and storage facilities.
Optimization of California's Water Supply System: Results and Insights


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