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Comparative analysis of methodologies for the implementation of environmental flows (EF), according to the WFD_D4.1

Date: 23 August 2012

Although hydropower production is often considered as “green” energy and contributes to the fulfilment of the RES-e Directive, it causes significant pressure on aquatic ecosystems due to habitat fragmentation, impoundments, hydro peaking and water abstraction, thereby counteracting the WFD targets. Nevertheless, the WFD and the RES-e Directive have to work together. To fulfil both directives, it will be necessary to increase the consideration of aquatic ecosystem processes, when planning or renewing hydropower plants.

Facing the increasing water demand due to hydropower, drinking water, industry, irrigation or tourism it is necessary to optimize water management strategies. There was not always a broad acceptance to consider aquatic ecosystems as legitimate “users” of freshwater. The development of Environmental Flow (EF) started with the definition of minimum flows which turned out not to be sufficient to preserve aquatic ecosystems. Improvements lead to the definition of EFs, including characteristics of the natural flow regime.

EF can be defined using many different methodologies, whereby it is often discussed which method is the most suitable. In the end it is not the selected method and the resulting EF that has to be evaluated, it is the good ecological status, demanded by the WFD, which has to be achieved and maintained.

In this report EF assessment methods from different countries (i.e. Romania, Italy, Austria and Slovenia) and their framework (i.e. included ecological parameters, hydrological components, monitoring, objectives, etc.) will be discussed. Best practice examples are used to illustrate some methodologies.

» SEE_HYDROPOWER_WP4_D4.1_BOKU_120823_final.pdf