The Ecological Flows Tool (EFT) is a database-centered decision support system for linking flow, gravel and channel management actions to changes in the physical habitats for selected species of concern. EFT emphasizes clear communication of trade-offs for key ecosystem targets associated with alternative conveyance, water operations and climate futures in the Sacramento River and San Francisco Delta eco-regions. It enables the practical integration of multi-species, multi-habitat needs in the evaluation of water operation scenarios, thereby facilitating the inclusion of a broad suite of ecological considerations into water use planning exercises. The hallmark of the EFT approach is integration and clear communication of multiple ecological trade-offs associated with different water operation alternatives. Our approach links physical planning models (e.g., CalSim, DSM2) to a representative sampling of multiple ecosystem components in a cross-disciplinary synthesis tool for evaluating ecosystem trade-offs of different conveyance and water operation alternatives both in the Delta and Sacramento River. We choose representative ecological indicators that capture the essence of existing conceptual models inside our standardized interfaces that use common physical driving models (e.g., flow, stage, salinity, water temperature) to allow cross-walking of ecological consequences over policy alternatives.

The EFT Reader software is a viewer of EFT scenarios and model output. Users who do not have an analysis copy of the EFT database cannot create new scenarios or edit existing scenarios using the Reader. The EFT Reader links with a centralized copy of the EFT database located on a remote server. The public EFT Reader database currently (as of August 2012) contains a suite of fully configured scenarios, derived from the Sacramento River Ecological Flows Study and from test scenarios supplied by DWR and project partners. Future versions of the EFT Reader database will include EFT results for simulations based on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s proposed conveyance and habitat restoration measures (once these data sets enter public domain).