Enhancing Project Performance: Integrating Risk, Uncertainty and Risk-Cost-Benefit (RUCB) Procedures into Project Operation and Planning Analyses

Project ID: 9616
Principal Investigator: James Gjerde
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2008
Keywords: None

Research Question

* How to develop alternative operations plans and effectively communicate with decision-makers and customers at the appropriate time(s)on the risks and associated risk-cost-benefits for delivering water to fisheries/environment, contractors and hydropower customers at various probability?

* How to incorporate RUCB into the development of water supply reliability standards, particularly for municipal and industrial (M&I)/rural water appraisal and feasibility studies (P.L. 109-451), where alternatives must be formulated to meet users needs while also being economically and financially feasible?

* How to increase acceptance of RUCB analysis as a valued and integral part of project operations and planning?

* What data issues can limit efforts in making a robust application of RUCB and what are the remedies?

* What institutional issues need to be considered and managed when developing and implementing RUCB practices?

* When decisions are linked, how can RUCB be applied to sequenced decision-making actions?

Need and Benefit


Water supply variability is a key consideration in all project operations and planning studies. Concepts such as firm yield and inflow forecasts at specific exceedances have served Reclamation needs for decades. However, today's decisionmaker and customer desire a more complete picture of the water supply which oftentimes includes display of associated risks, uncertainties, probabilities and risk-cost-benefits in terms of acceptable quality and service standards. The costs and environmental trade-offs associated with various alternatives that reduce risks are typically presented. Many of the large and sophisticated water supply entities engage specialized professionals to perform the requisite analyses.

Reclamation analysts, especially those in hydrology, economics, and environmental functions, struggle with using and defending the validity of deterministic procedures currently in near-exclusive use which is further complicated by climate change adaptation strategies. Only a minority is experienced with RUCB theory and robust application--there is no common language and only a limited technical understanding among Reclamation managers and decisionmakers.

Because our expert scientists and engineers are few in number with limited geographic diversity, and because of the likelihood of retirements in the near future, Reclamation is uniquely suited to take advantage of the opportunity to assemble a team of experts from these pockets of expertise to conduct this vital research.

Major benefits include:
* Improvement in Reclamation's overall knowledge

* Demonstration of how RUCB can be incorporated into planning and operations analyses

* Improvement in key competencies among Reclamation's technical and scientific community

* Development of a common language and technical understanding among managers and decisionmakers--resulting in improved ability to interpret technical issues with stakeholders

* Communication of research findings via a workshop

* Presentation of case studies where RUCB tools/models and methods were effectively used

* Production of a report/guidelines to provide a suggested template for including RUCB as a standard practice in project operations and planning settings

Potential Applications
RUCB methods could be beneficially applied to several water management challenges, singly or collectively, such as meeting:

* Reservoir elevations for recreation
* Hydropower production levels
* Downstream environmental flows
* Contracted water supplies

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Please contact research@usbr.gov about research products related to this project.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20