The management of downstream flows from hydropower projects is an essential element of sustainable hydropower development, but there can be disagreement amongst stakeholders over the objectives, magnitude and timing of flows required.
Hydropower projects can significantly alter downstream river flows by changing flow dynamics to follow energy demand, by reducing flow to a bypassed stretch, or by increasing flows due to diversions.
These alterations can lead advocates to call for increased or changed flow regimes for purposes other than hydropower generation, often to maintain and support a river’s ecological and morphological processes and its ability to deliver ecosystem services to people.
Compromises are necessary to satisfy downstream social and ecological objectives in partnership with a profitable and reliable hydropower project. Each case is individual and requires dedicated investigation of flow requirements.
Downstream flows objectives will differ greatly depending on the river, its communities and interactions, and the influence of hydropower on flows. A pragmatic approach is paramount, and collaborative approaches amongst major stakeholders are encouraged to better understand the river's ecological values and how best to protect and enhance these.
Latest associated content
A new IHA briefing, 2015 Key Trends in Hydropower, shows that hydropower is continuing its strong growth trend with 36 GW of new capacity added in 2014.Type:Blog postDate:19 May 2015
The results of a Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol assessment of Kabeli-A, a 37.6 MW run-of-river hydropower project under preparation in Nepal, have been published.Type:Blog postDate:13 March 2015
Mattia Celio is program manager at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Economic Cooperation and Development Division.Type:Blog postDate:20 February 2015
As the Government of Ghana aims to nearly double the country’s installed power capacity to 5,000 MW by 2016, hydroelectricity is expected to play an important role in new development.Type:Blog postDate:2 February 2015
We have enjoyed a busy year in 2014 that has taken our team around the world, connecting members regionally and participating in many sector events. Here are just some of the highlights of our travels.Type:Blog postDate:18 December 2014