The management of water through the impoundment of rivers by dams and reservoirs is necessary to support key human activities such as hydropower production, agriculture and flood risk mitigation. Advances in multi-objective optimization techniques and ever growing computing power make it possible to design reservoir operating policies that represent Pareto-optimal tradeoffs between multiple interests. On the one hand, such optimization methods can enhance performances of commonly targeted objectives (such as hydropower production or water supply), on the other hand they risk strongly penalizing all the interests not directly (i.e. mathematically) included in the optimization algorithm. The alteration of the downstream hydrological regime is a well established cause of ecological degradation and its evaluation and rehabilitation is commonly required by recent legislation (as the Water Framework Directive in Europe). However, it is rarely embedded in reservoir optimization routines and, even when explicitly considered, the criteria adopted for its evaluation are doubted and not commonly trusted, undermining the possibility of real implementation of environmentally friendly policies. The main challenges in defining and assessing hydrological alterations are: how to define a reference state (referencing); how to define criteria upon which to build mathematical indicators of alteration (measuring); and finally how to aggregate the indicators in a single evaluation index (valuing) that can serve as objective function in the optimization problem. This paper aims to address these issues by: (i) discussing the benefits and constrains of different approaches to referencing, measuring and valuing hydrological alteration; (ii) testing two alternative indices of hydrological alteration, one based on the established framework of Indicators of Hydrological Alteration (Richter et al., 1996), and one satisfying the mathematical properties required by widely used optimization methods based on dynamic programming; (iii) demonstrating and discussing these indices by application River Ticino, in Italy; (iv) providing a framework to effectively include hydrological alteration within reservoir operation optimization.

Valuing hydrological alteration in multi-objective water resources management

BIZZI, SIMONE;PIANOSI, FRANCESCA;SONCINI SESSA, RODOLFO
2012-01-01

Abstract

The management of water through the impoundment of rivers by dams and reservoirs is necessary to support key human activities such as hydropower production, agriculture and flood risk mitigation. Advances in multi-objective optimization techniques and ever growing computing power make it possible to design reservoir operating policies that represent Pareto-optimal tradeoffs between multiple interests. On the one hand, such optimization methods can enhance performances of commonly targeted objectives (such as hydropower production or water supply), on the other hand they risk strongly penalizing all the interests not directly (i.e. mathematically) included in the optimization algorithm. The alteration of the downstream hydrological regime is a well established cause of ecological degradation and its evaluation and rehabilitation is commonly required by recent legislation (as the Water Framework Directive in Europe). However, it is rarely embedded in reservoir optimization routines and, even when explicitly considered, the criteria adopted for its evaluation are doubted and not commonly trusted, undermining the possibility of real implementation of environmentally friendly policies. The main challenges in defining and assessing hydrological alterations are: how to define a reference state (referencing); how to define criteria upon which to build mathematical indicators of alteration (measuring); and finally how to aggregate the indicators in a single evaluation index (valuing) that can serve as objective function in the optimization problem. This paper aims to address these issues by: (i) discussing the benefits and constrains of different approaches to referencing, measuring and valuing hydrological alteration; (ii) testing two alternative indices of hydrological alteration, one based on the established framework of Indicators of Hydrological Alteration (Richter et al., 1996), and one satisfying the mathematical properties required by widely used optimization methods based on dynamic programming; (iii) demonstrating and discussing these indices by application River Ticino, in Italy; (iv) providing a framework to effectively include hydrological alteration within reservoir operation optimization.
Ecohydrology; Hydrological alteration; Reservoir operation; Multi-objective optimization
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11311/689834
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