Surface Reservoir Reoperation for Managed Aquifer Recharge: Folsom Reservoir System

Document Type



As is much of the world, California increasingly is challenged by water scarcity. A recent multiyear drought depleted surface reservoir and groundwater storage in many places of the state. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014, promises sustainable groundwater management in California and suggests managed aquifer recharge (MAR) as one of the key practices to eliminate groundwater overdraft by groundwater sustainability agencies. Questions remain, however, about the amount of water available for MAR. Conjunctive management provides the opportunity to modify reservoir operations and enhance recharge long before any drought occurs. However, the amount by which reoperation of surface reservoirs can increase the available water for MAR has not been thoroughly investigated. Folsom reservoir is operated to meet a variety of objectives, including flood control, water supply, hydropower, and environmental flow. The inclusion of water discharge for groundwater recharge adds another objective for the operation of the reservoir and complicates the decision-making. Various management strategies were developed and applied to evaluate performance of the system during a historical period, and a new objective was added to maximize the available water for recharge from Folsom reservoir. Although the reoperation strategy offers additional storage in the system and increases the expected value of recharge from 280 to 430 million cubic meter (mcm) per year, trade-offs between different objectives showed that new operating rules perform quite satisfactorily, with nonsignificant deficits and violations of old objectives.

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APA Citation

Goharian, E., Azizipour, M., Sandoval-Soils, S., & Fogg, G. E. (2020). Surface Reservoir Reoperation for Managed Aquifer Recharge: Folsom Reservoir System. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 146(12), 04020095.