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Environmental Flow Scenarios for a Regulated River System: Projecting Catchment-Wide Ecosystem Benefits and Consequences for Hydroelectric Production

Widén, Åsa and Renofalt, Birgitta Malm and Degerman, Erik and Jansson, Roland (2022). Environmental Flow Scenarios for a Regulated River System: Projecting Catchment-Wide Ecosystem Benefits and Consequences for Hydroelectric Production. Water Resources Research. 58 :1 , e2021WR030297
[Research article]

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Abstract

To enable prioritization among measures for ecological restoration, knowing the expected benefits and consequences of implementation is imperative but rarely explicitly quantified. We developed a novel method to prioritize among environmental flow measures to rehabilitate ecosystems in the Ume River catchment in northern Sweden, a river system heavily regulated for hydropower production. Our strategy was to identify measures with minimal impact on hydropower production while providing substantial environmental benefits. Based on field surveys of remaining natural values and potential for ecological rehabilitation, we quantified the projected gain in habitat area of implementing environmental flows for target organism groups, for example, lotic fish species and riparian vegetation, along the whole river length. We quantified the consequences for hydropower production by identifying a set of hydropower operational rules reflecting the constraints added by environmental flows. We then used production optimization software to calculate changes in hydropower production and revenues. Implementing restrictions on zero-flow events by mandating minimum discharge at all run-of-river hydropower stations and allocating 1%-12% of mean annual discharge to bypassed reaches in the entire catchment would result in a 2.1% loss of annual electricity production. Adding flow to fishways would increase the loss to 3.1% per year. With implementation of more natural water-level fluctuations in run-of-river impoundments, the loss increases to 3.8%. These actions would increase the habitat for lotic species like the grayling Thymallus more than threefold and increase the area of riparian vegetation by about 66%. Our method forms a basis for ongoing implementation of nationwide environmental rehabilitation schemes.

Authors/Creators:Widén, Åsa and Renofalt, Birgitta Malm and Degerman, Erik and Jansson, Roland
Title:Environmental Flow Scenarios for a Regulated River System: Projecting Catchment-Wide Ecosystem Benefits and Consequences for Hydroelectric Production
Series Name/Journal:Water Resources Research
Year of publishing :2022
Volume:58
Number:1
Article number:e2021WR030297
Number of Pages:22
Publisher:AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION
ISSN:0043-1397
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:consequences on electricity production, cost-benefit analyses, environmental benefits estimated by habitat, hydropower optimization software, regulated rivers and hydropower, river restoration and environmental flow assessment at catchment level
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116208
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-116208
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1029/2021WR030297
Web of Science (WoS)000751310200022
ID Code:27199
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
(NL, NJ) > Department of Aquatic Resources
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:24 Feb 2022 15:25
Metadata Last Modified:24 Feb 2022 15:31

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