California water supply forecast will be audited

The audit comes after California water operations significantly overestimated forecasts and released more water than needed, officials said.

CALIFORNIA, United States — There will be an audit of California’s water supply forecast after the state overestimated and prematurely released 700,000 acre-feet of water last year, officials said Monday.

A press release from Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) announced that Gray’s audit request had been approved. It aims to examine the impacts of faulty forecasts and of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the State Water Board.

“Mistakes of this magnitude have real and measurable consequences,” Gray said in the press release. “Managers of the largest local, state and federal reservoirs use this information to determine when to let water accumulate and when to let water out to make room for the upcoming snowmelt. Growers use this information to predict how much water they can expect for their farms and how many acres they can afford to plant. The estimates are used to inform everything from flood control to power generation and water quality standards.

California water operations overestimated forecasts by 68% for the Sacramento River region, 45% for the San Joaquin River region and 46% for the Lake Tulare region, according to a state report . These overestimates left operators with less stored water than needed, according to Gray’s press release.

Gray said the state’s error was contrasted by other agencies and local irrigation districts that didn’t make the same mistakes in their own forecasts.

“Nobody expects DWR or any of these organizations to get exactly the right number,” Gray said. “But when the state’s best forecast is demonstrably lower than local and federal forecasts, we need to ask ourselves why, and we need to address the issues as soon as possible. Until we figure out what went wrong with California’s water agencies, we can’t figure out how to fix the problem.

The audit is expected to take six to seven months.

ABC10 contacted DWR for comment, but the message was not immediately returned.

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