Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations

California’s Russian River on a sunny day

Project Brief

Climate change has caused severe floods and droughts in California, wreaking havoc on flood control and water supply systems. Since 2014, ERG has helped develop and roll out an innovative resilience strategy called Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations. FIRO uses improved precipitation forecasts to flexibly manage reservoirs, releasing water before floods and holding water to mitigate droughts. FIRO is operationalized by updating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' manuals, which date back to the 1950s, to incorporate forecast operations.

ERG provides ongoing support to FIRO inter-agency steering committees in their work to develop, test, and implement improved precipitation forecasting in three California watersheds (Russian River, Yuba River, and Santa Ana). We help develop work plans, outreach strategies, viability assessments, communication products, economic assessments, and recommendations to the USACE for updating the reservoir-specific USACE manuals to better balance fisheries, water supply, and flood control. In addition, ERG is directly supporting USACE in developing and executing a national FIRO rollout.


Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Sonoma County Water Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers