Department of Water Resources Home

System Reoperation Program


Ajay Goyal,
Program Manager

Dept of Water Resources
901 P St., Room 213 A
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001
Phone: (916) 651-9241


Doug Carlson,
Public Information Officer

DWR Public Affairs Office
1416 9th St, Room 252-23
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 653-5114

System Reoperation Program

Map of California Waterways Groundwater Aerial of Harvey Banks Pumping Plant Aerial of Lake Oroville Delta Sandbags chinook salmon California Aqueduct

In 2008, the State Legislature authorized and directed the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to identify options for the reoperation of the state’s existing flood protection and water supply systems. The existing water supply systems are operated to meet the various regulatory requirements, contractual obligations, and operating rules. DWR is conducting the System Reoperation Study (SRS) in cooperation with other State and federal agencies, local water districts, groundwater managers, and other stakeholders.

The study focuses on meeting the following objectives:

  • Improve the reliability of municipal and irrigation water supply.
  • Reduce flood hazards.
  • Restore and protect ecosystems.
  • Buffer the hydrologic variations expected from climate change.
  • Improve water quality.

California’s statewide water system is composed of a multitude of local, State, and federal projects. These projects include dams and reservoirs, hydropower plants, canals, and water diversion structures. Many of these facilities were developed in the early to mid-20th century, and were not designed, constructed, or operated as an integrated water supply and flood management system. Over time, operations of the two largest water supply projects, the State Water Project (SWP), operated by DWR, and the Central Valley Project (CVP), operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), have been integrated to a certain degree.

California’s water supply and flood management infrastructure is physically interconnected to the extent that it is technically feasible to move water around the system, from Trinity County in the north to Imperial County in the south. However, the management of the water system is not as well integrated as it could be. The underlying logic of the SRS is that California can do much more with its existing water infrastructure by taking advantage of the physical interconnections (and enhancing them) while also operating the system in a coordinated manner to optimize the benefits.

The development of this study is a multi-phased effort that includes:

The next phase of the System Reoperation Study will consist of evaluation of the following:

  • Potential for using flood water for managed groundwater recharge on (Flood-MAR) farmland and working landscapes for flood protection, drought preparedness, aquifer remediation, and ecosystem restoration.
  • Existing flood operating rules of the reservoirs under changing hydrology.
  • Feasibility of existing reservoir spillways and outlets to pass floodwater safely with changing hydrology.
  • Identification of system reoperation implementation challenges and opportunities.