Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River © US Army Corp of Engineers

Image: Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River © USACE

Climate and land use change are modifying inflows to reservoirs, which have potential to impact the ability of reservoirs to reduce flood risk, produce hydropower, supply water to cities and industries, provide recreation, and release flows to support downstream ecosystems. Furthermore, the growing population, aging infrastructure, and changing regulations and socioeconomic values place additional pressure on water resources systems. Under a collection of grants, the Rivers Lab has been using a suite of coupled models to evaluate how changing environmental conditions impact reservoir operational performance, and how reservoir operations can be adapted to mitigate the effects of changing conditions on people and the environment.  Key outcomes from the work so far include:

  • hydrologic model selection for climate change analysis (Surfleet et al. 2012), uncertainty in projections of future reservoir inflows (Surfleet and Tullos 2012), and effects of climate change on rain-on-snow events (Surfleet and Tullos 2013) (NSF #0846360);
  • the role of hydrogeology in the sub-basin sensitivity to land use and climate change (Mateus et al. 2015), and the reliability, vulnerability, and sensitivity of reservoir operations to climate change (Mateus and Tullos 2016a, b) (NSF #0846360, #1038925);
  • Deeply multidisciplinary modeling, stakeholder engagement, and scenario analysis around climate change responses, produced through the Willamette Water 2100 project. Results highlight the role of regulations and conveyance costs in producing scarcity (Jaeger et al. 2017) and the impacts of changing storage on reservoir operations across a network of reservoirs (Tullos and Walter, in prep) (NSF #1038925).
  • Interactive online tutorials on reservoir operations planning
  • Matlab scripts for reservoir operations metrics