Using Climate Forecasts for Water Management: Arizona and the 1997-1998 El Nino
|Using Climate Forecasts for Water Management: Arizona and the 1997-1998 El Nino
|Year of Publication
|Pagano, T, Hartmann, H, Sorooshian, S
|JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Unrelenting pressure on limited surface water supplies requires increasingly sophisticated water management approaches. Climate forecasts of seasonal precipitation and temperature are potentially useful, but the operational water management community currently underutilizes them. However, some agencies in Arizona took unprecedented advantage of forecasts for a potentially wet winter during the 1997–1998 El Niño event. This study investigates use of this information through a series of semi-structured in-depth interviews with key personnel from agencies responsible for emergency management and water supply; their jurisdictions ranged from urban to rural and local to regional. Interviews investigated information acquisition, interpretation, and incorporation into specific decisions and actions. While unprecedented actions were taken by some water management agencies and no agencies implemented inappropriate measures, some missed opportunities for more effective response, primarily through inaction. This study reveals a variety of technical factors and institutional characteristics affecting forecast use. Study findings emphasize the need for: (a) closer ongoing relationships between forecast producers and users, (b) increased institutional flexibility to exploit the increasing skill of seasonal climate forecasts, (c) demonstration projects of effective forecast use, and (d) a regional forum to facilitate information transfer between the hydro-climatic research community and operational water managers.