California Department of Water Resources

FloodSAFE / Integrated Water Management
A sustainable integrated flood management and emergency response system throughout California that improves public safety, protects and enhances environmental and cultural resources, and supports economic growth by reducing the probability of destructive floods, promoting beneficial floodplain processes, and lowering the damages caused by flooding.

DWR’s Challenge

The State of California voters approved approximately $5B to be used to accomplish five primary things:

  • Reduce the Chance of Flooding – Reduce the frequency and size of floods that could damage California communities, homes and property, and critical public infrastructure.
  • Reduce the Consequences of Flooding – Take actions prior to flooding that will help reduce the adverse consequences of floods when they do occur and allow for quicker recovery after flooding.
  • Sustain Economic Growth – Provide continuing opportunities for prudent economic development that supports robust regional and statewide economies without creating additional flood risk.
  • Protect and Enhance Ecosystems – Improve flood management systems in ways that protect, restore and where possible enhance ecosystems and other public trust resources.
  • Promote Sustainability – Take actions that improve compatibility with the natural environment and reduce the expected costs to operate and maintain flood management systems into the future.

Unfortunately, the expectations of the voters and the politicians were well-ahead of DWR’s ability to execute — as the state had chronically under-funded flood management, and the organizational readiness needed bolstering. In addition, FloodSAFE crossed divisional boundaries throughout DWR, and the department had historically not delivered massive programs in an integrated manner. As such, the department needed to realign itself into a program-based organizational model to deliver FloodSAFE in the most effective, efficient manner.

Our Solution

Acting as a sub-contractor to Synergy Connects, Inc. (a project delivery-focused professional services firm head by Dave Ellison), during 2006 – 2009 R S Tipton, Inc. provided leadership and direct consulting services related to strategic planning, conflict resolution, team chartering, leadership team alignment, strategic communication and public relations, bond accountability, and overall quality assurance / quality control.

Outcome / Benefits

The overall benefits to the State of California taxpayers have been significant: clear communication, specific accountability for funding, unambiguous roles and responsibilities, mutually-agreed upon priorities and schedules, etc. Direct benefits total in the millions of dollars saved.


Most recently, the FloodSAFE program was directly responsible for the highly-successful flood protection and responses to the 2017 flood events in the Central Valley of California.

Large Scale Infrastructure, Water Industry