WEBINAR SERIES: Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operation

PART 3: Engineering Aspects of a FIRO Program

JANUARY 20, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET / 10:00 - 11:00 AM PT



Part 3 of the webinar series on Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations. This part will cover policy and application from a USACE District perspective, the evaluation of FIRO Water Control Plans, and USACE operations experience with FIRO-based planned major deviations.

Learning Objectives

  1. The role of USACE in Water Management, with focus on West Coast including authority and policy and exploring where FIRO fits.
  2. A process for evaluating Water Control Plan alternatives and comparing them with baseline operations.
  3. Experience with FIRO-based planned major deviations for Lake Mendocino that recognize the forecast skill time specific to the Russian River basin, recognize the operational constraints of Coyote Valley Dam, and in collaboration with multiple disciplines (operations and environmental) and resource agencies (local, state, and federal).


Joe Forbis
Chief, Water Management Section
USACE, Sacramento District

Rob Hartman
RKH Consulting Services

Patrick Sing
Hydraulic Engineer, Lead Water Manager
USACE, San Francisco District

PART 4: National Applications and Transferability

CHANGE: A new date will be announced soon.

Register for Part 4 Only

Registration will open soon.

PART 5: International FIRO Applications and Potential Innovations

CHANGE: A new date will be announced soon.

Registration will open soon.

PART 2: Science Aspects of a FIRO Program

ORIGINALLY AIRED NOVEMBER 18, 2020 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET / 10:00 - 11:00 AM PT



The Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) program is founded in science. A successful program requires a thorough observation network that includes on-the-ground gauging, event based atmospheric monitoring and remote sensing. These observations provide an accurate picture of current conditions to provide validation data for forecast models and to enable physical process studies that lead to improved parameterizations and more accurate forecasts from the numerical models that predict atmospheric conditions and hydrology. A decision support system must leverage the skill and uncertainty of the forecasts to make management decisions that meet multiple objectives. Coordination of these components requires a multi-disciplinary team of atmospheric scientists, hydrologists and engineers. This webinar provides an overview of the science of the FIRO program from observations to decision support.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the essential components of a FIRO project in a reservoir.
  2. Recognize the different forecast requirements for FIRO reservoirs with different characteristics.
  3. Identify the role of observational campaigns in FIRO projects.


Anna Wilson
Field Research Manager
CW3E/ Scripps/ UCSD

Dr. Anna Wilson is the Field Research Manager with the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She has been with the Center since earning her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University in 2016. Her work involves the integration of observations and modeling to research atmospheric rivers and extreme precipitation events in the west, particularly for water resource management applications such as FIRO. Her responsibilities include overseeing ground-based field programs in California and coordinating airborne field campaigns over the northeast Pacific.

Forest Cannon
Atmospheric Scientist
CW3E/ Scripps/ UCSD

Dr. Forest Cannon is an atmospheric scientist in the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. His research focuses on reducing uncertainty in forecasts of atmospheric rivers and precipitation in the Western United States. Forest's work leverages field campaign and remotely sensed observations alongside numerical weather prediction to understand current forecast system limitations and potential areas of improvement.

Chris Delaney
Sonoma Water
Senior Engineer

Chris Delaney has been a water resources engineer at Sonoma Water for over 15 years, where he specializes in water resources planning and numerical modeling. Over the years Chris has provided support to numerous high-profile projects throughout Sonoma County including the modeling of complex hydrologic and hydraulic systems, evaluation of impacts for sensitive fish species, and the development flood control and water supply decision support systems. Most recently Chris has teamed up with Scripps Institute of Oceanography to provide technical support on the simulation of Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations for reservoirs in California.

PART 1: Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO): Overview and Introduction to FIRO Webinar Series

ORIGINALLY AIRED OCTOBER 14, 2020 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET / 10:00 - 11:00 AM PT



The goals, strategies and status of Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) will be summarized, including major efforts at several reservoirs ranging from 0.1 to 4.0 million acre-feet storage. These projects cover a range of conditions, from rural to urban, coastal to inland, snow-dominated to rain only. Priorities range from increasing water supply reliability to enhancing flood mitigation and addressing ecosystem issues. All with an eye toward informing potential updates to water control manuals. FIRO has garnered support from water managers and policy makers. It has mitigated risks to water supply reliability during an extremely dry year and enhances flexibility in operating reservoirs based on skill in weather prediction, especially of atmospheric rivers, which are key to flooding and water supply in much of the west. Its success rests upon the development of a research and operations partnership that brings disparate parties and experts together to collaboratively assess potential FIRO viability.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the key strategies used in the development of FIRO viability assessments.
  2. Describe how the formation of a research and operations partnership creates a framework for collaborative vision and work plan development and fosters effective problem solving.
  3. Recognize the range of conditions and goals being addressed by the current and planned FIRO viability assessments.


F. Martin (Marty) Ralph
Director, Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes
UC San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Dr. F. Martin Ralph is a weather and water scientist focused on understanding the origins of floods and droughts, and on improving predictions for water management and flood control applications. After 21 years at NOAA, he created the “Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes” at UC San Diego. He’s published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles and has developed programs on new science and technology and their application to solving practical problems. He is a leading expert on atmospheric rivers and provides input to policy makers on western weather and water extremes. He is a leader in development of Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO), working closely with federal, state and local water managers. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and has received awards from several organizations. He has a B. S. in Meteorology from University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from UCLA.

Jay Jasperse
Chief Engineer
Sonoma Water

Mr. Jasperse is the Chief Engineer and Director of Groundwater Management for the Sonoma County Water Agency. Mr. Jasperse received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the University of California at Davis and a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of California. Prior to joining the Water Agency, he worked as an environmental engineering consultant specializing in groundwater resource characterization and remediation. He is responsible for the Water Agency’s capital projects program and water resource planning and management activities. Mr. Jasperse also serves as Plan Manager for three Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. He is an author of published articles and book chapters on topics such as surface water-groundwater interactions, natural filtration processes, riverbank filtration, and integrated water resource management.

Cary Talbot
Chief, Flood and Storm Protection Division/Coastal Hydraulics Laboratory
US Army Corps of Engineers/ Engineer Research & Development Center

Dr. Cary Talbot is Chief of the Flood & Storm Protection Division in the Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL), US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) where he supervises the execution of research and development activities of over 100 scientists, engineers and technicians in a wide range of coastal, hydraulic, hydrologic, estuarine and riverine engineering, data collection and analysis applications. He is also the Program Manager of the Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) effort for the US Army Corps of Engineers. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil & Environmental Engineering from Brigham Young University and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Connecticut. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Mississippi.

Webinar Recording & PDH Certificate

Included with your webinar registration is access to a recording of the webinar and a fillable certificate to self-report your Professional Development Hour (PDH) credit. The recording, your certificate, and any available slides will be emailed to you in the days following the webinar. Access to the webinar recording will be available on AWRA’s Webinar Center and in the email you will receive from membership@awra.org.


If you actively engage in our community, your career and organization will benefit. We offer multiple opportunities for engagement via conferences, social media, webinars, committees and publications.

State Water Plans Report