Water Supply Reliability Tradeoffs between Removing Reservoir Storage and Improving Water Conveyance in California

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of the American Water Resources Association






Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.

Publication Date



Dam removal, Hetch Hetchy, Optimization, Restoration, Water management, Water supply, Water use

First Page


Last Page



Population growth, climate change, aging infrastructure, and changing societal values alter how water must be managed in the 21st Century. O'Shaughnessy Dam, located in Yosemite National Park, has been identified as a possible candidate for dam removal. It is a component of San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy System and is operated for water supply and hydropower. This article describes a spatially scaled approach to analyze water reliability without O'Shaughnessy Dam, but with improved water conveyance between the Hetch Hetchy System and existing reservoirs and aqueducts at the watershed, regional Bay Area, and statewide scales. It broadens previous research to highlight larger scale implications of removing O'Shaughnessy Dam and evaluates the role of improved water conveyance for water management. CALifornia Value Integrated Network, a large-scale hydro-economic model evaluates intertied water management using estimated urban and agricultural water demands for year 2050 with 72-year historical and warm, dry hydrologic conditions. Results suggest that O'Shaughnessy Dam can be removed with additional conveyance at any spatial scale while maintaining water reliability. With a warm, dry climate, water reliability, and storage decline, indicating removing O'Shaughnessy Dam may have less effect on water management than climate change when conveyance is improved between the Hetch Hetchy System and nearby systems. Improving water conveyance can sometimes substitute for water storage in storage-rich watersheds.

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