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Introduction to Environmental Flows in Hydropower Projects (Self-Paced)

Introduction to Environmental Flows in Hydropower Projects (Self-Paced)

Despite admirable intentions of hydropower development projects, there is often a risk for negative environmental and social impacts. Because of the vital importance of water for ecosystems and communities of an area, impacts of project development on the water resources can have severe consequences. The construction of hydropower reservoirs allows for the control of the discharge to suit the demand for power production. However, the effect on the surrounding environment can be significant with long-term irreversible effects. Project development impacts need to be mitigated to maintain the aquatic ecosystems and the access to water and services they provide communities. The required flow regime necessary for maintaining the ecosystems is referred to as the Environmental Flow (EF), and defined as the quantity, timing and quality of freshwater flows and levels necessary to sustain aquatic ecosystems which, in turn, support human cultures, economies, sustainable livelihoods, and well-being (Brisbane Declaration, 2018).