Meeting ecosystem needs while satisfying human demands

Regulated rivers worldwide are managed to meet human water demands, including irrigation and hydropower, but resulting flows often fail to support downstream ecosystems. To further confound these management challenges, global climate warming and commensurate hydroclimatic alteration are

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Valuing year-to-go hydrologic forecast improvements for a peaking hydropower system in the Sierra Nevada Authors

We assessed the potential value of hydrologic forecasting improvements for a snow-dominated high-elevation hydropower system in the Sierra Nevada of California, using a hydropower optimization model. To mimic different forecasting skill levels for inflow time series, rest-of-year inflows from...

CERC-WET: Sustainable Hydropower Operations

River systems worldwide have been modified through water management practices resulting in impaired flow regimes critical to supporting hydrogeomorphic processes and ecological functionality of riverscapes. In particular, hydropower operations affect downstream ecosystems through changes in flow patterns, temperature, and sediment transport. A functional flows paradigm – emphasizing process-based hydrograph components – has emerged as a guide for developing environmental flow frameworks in heavily managed river systems.

Assessing the Value of Improved Hydrologic Forecasting for Hydropower in the Sierra Nevada at Multiple Spatial Scales

Increased accuracy of snowpack measurements can potentially greatly improve planning for rest-of-year water allocations, particularly when coupled with improvements in hydrologic modeling skill. In California, the degree to which investments in improved hydrologic information systems, such as...

Systematic Screening of Dams for Environmental Flow Assessment and Implementation

Environmental flow protections are crucial to the conservation of freshwater biodiversity in dam-regulated river systems. Nevertheless, the implementation of environmental flows has lagged far behind the pace of river ecosystem alteration. The vast number of dams now in operation and the...

Incorporating Climate Change in Flow Regime Alteration Studies in Hydropower Licensing

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to mandate incorporation of anticipated climate change effects on hydropower system operations when assessing environmental impacts from the renewal of hydropower licenses. One stated reason is the lack of specific project-level specificity...

Using high resolution subsurface modeling in managed aquifer recharge

The elimination of baseflow due to declining groundwater levels has compromised many ecological functions of the Cosumnes River. Numerical modeling has shown that floodplain reconnection can be a viable method to increase groundwater recharge - mitigating overdraft and helping re-establish...

Characterization of pulsed flow attenuation on a regulated montane river

A major benefit of hydropower is its ability to respond quickly to fluctuating electrical loads. However, the sharp changes in discharge caused by this practice have detrimental environmental effects downstream. This study investigated the effects of hydrograph shape on attenuation of regulated...

A Method to Consider Whether Dams Mitigate Climate Change Effects on Stream Temperatures

This article provides a method for examining mesoscale water quality objectives downstream of dams with anticipated climate change using a multimodel approach. Coldwater habitat for species such as trout and salmon has been reduced by water regulation, dam building, and land use change that...

Simulating High-Elevation Hydropower with Regional Climate Warming in the West Slope, Sierra Nevada

Water systems in snowmelt-dominated hydroregions such as California’s Sierra Nevada mountains are sensitive to regional climate change, hydropower systems in particular. In this study, a water resources management model was developed for the upper west slope Sierra Nevada to understand the...

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