2015 journal article
A framework for incorporating ecological releases in single reservoir operation
Advances in Water Resources, 78, 9–21.
Most reservoir operation practices consider downstream environmental flow as a constraint to meet a minimum release. The resulting flow regime may not necessarily provide downstream aquatic conditions to support healthy ecosystems. These effects can be quantified in terms of changes in values of parameters that represent the flow regimes. Numerous studies have focused on determining the ecological response to hydrological alteration caused by reservoir operation. To mitigate hydrological alteration and restore the natural flow regime as much as possible, a reservoir operation framework is proposed to explicitly incorporate ecological flow requirements. A general optimization-based decision model is presented to consider simultaneously the multiple anthropogenic uses of the reservoir and desirable ecological releases represented by parameters that capture the flow regime. Multiple uses of the reservoir, including water supply, hydropower generation, etc., are modeled as a mixed integer programming problem. Hydropower generation, which is represented by a nonlinear function that usually depends on head and water flow, is linearized using a two-dimensional function. Investigations using a reservoir in Virginia, located in the southeastern United States, demonstrate that compared to standard releases based on current operation practice, releases simulated using this framework perform better in mimicking pre-development flows. The tradeoff between anthropogenic use and ecological releases is investigated. The framework is first demonstrated for instances with perfect stream flow information. To examine the flexibility of this framework in reservoir release management, monthly flow forecasts and disaggregated daily flow conditions are incorporated. Retrospective monthly flow forecasts are obtained through regression models that use gridded precipitation forecasts and gridded soil moisture estimates as predictors. A nonparametric method is chosen to disaggregate monthly flow forecasts to daily flow conditions. Compared with daily flow climatology, forecasted monthly and daily flow better preserves flow variability and result in lower changes of flow parameters under the proposed framework.