Anthropogenic activities along streams and rivers may be of major concern for fluvial ecosystems, e.g. abstraction and impoundment of surface water resources may profoundly alter natural streamflow regimes. An established approach aimed at preserving the behavior and distribution of fluvial species relies on the definition of ecological flows (e-flows) downstream of dams and diversion structures. E-flow prescriptions are usually set by basin authorities at regional scale, often without a proper assessment of their impact and effectiveness. On the contrary, we argue that e-flows should be identified on the basis of (i) regional and (ii) quantitative assessments. We focus on central Italy and evaluate the effects on habitat suitability of two near-threatened fish species (i.e. Barbel and Chub) and an existing hydro-power network when shifting from the current time-invariant e-flow policy to a tighter and seasonally-varying soon-to-be-enforced one. Our example clearly shows that: (a) quantitative regional scale assessments are viable even when streamflow observations are entirely missing at study sites; (b) aprioristic e-flows policies may impose releases that exceed natural streamflows for significantly long time intervals (weeks, or months); (c) unduly tightening e-flow policies may heavily impact regional hydro-power productivity (15% and 42% losses on annual and seasonal basis, respectively), yet resulting in either marginal or negligible improvements of fluvial ecosystem.

Hydro-power production and fish habitat suitability: Assessing impact and effectiveness of ecological flows at regional scale

Ceola Serena;Pugliese Alessio;Galeati Giorgio;Montanari Alberto;Castellarin Attilio
2018

Abstract

Anthropogenic activities along streams and rivers may be of major concern for fluvial ecosystems, e.g. abstraction and impoundment of surface water resources may profoundly alter natural streamflow regimes. An established approach aimed at preserving the behavior and distribution of fluvial species relies on the definition of ecological flows (e-flows) downstream of dams and diversion structures. E-flow prescriptions are usually set by basin authorities at regional scale, often without a proper assessment of their impact and effectiveness. On the contrary, we argue that e-flows should be identified on the basis of (i) regional and (ii) quantitative assessments. We focus on central Italy and evaluate the effects on habitat suitability of two near-threatened fish species (i.e. Barbel and Chub) and an existing hydro-power network when shifting from the current time-invariant e-flow policy to a tighter and seasonally-varying soon-to-be-enforced one. Our example clearly shows that: (a) quantitative regional scale assessments are viable even when streamflow observations are entirely missing at study sites; (b) aprioristic e-flows policies may impose releases that exceed natural streamflows for significantly long time intervals (weeks, or months); (c) unduly tightening e-flow policies may heavily impact regional hydro-power productivity (15% and 42% losses on annual and seasonal basis, respectively), yet resulting in either marginal or negligible improvements of fluvial ecosystem.
ADVANCES IN WATER RESOURCES
Ceola Serena; Pugliese Alessio; Ventura Matteo; Galeati Giorgio; Montanari Alberto; Castellarin Attilio
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/646780
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