Socio-hydrological analysis of adaptive reservoir operation: Navigating the tradeoffs between flood risk and water shortages

Authors: Samuel Park*, Purdue University, David Yu, Purdue University, Peyman Yousefi, Purdue University, Margaret Garcia, Arizona State University, Behshad Mohajer, Arizona State University, Murugesu Sivapalan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Behavioral Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Socio-hydrology, Forecast-informed reservoir operation (FIRO), Adaptive reservoir operation, Flood risk, Water shortage, Feedforward controller
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward using an adaptive reservoir operation approach called forecast-informed reservoir operation (FIRO) that incorporates hydrometeorological forecasts to moderate the effects of hydrological extremes. Although FIRO has a potential to reduce water shortages, insights from complexity science also suggest that such regulatory feedback control systems may also create hidden fragilities due to factors such as errors in sensing and interoperability processes. Previous studies have investigated multiple methods to optimize the tradeoff between flood risk and water shortage, mostly focusing on reservoir operation. However, little research has been done on effects of implementing FIRO on linked social systems. In this research, we investigate potential propagation effects of FIRO on decision-making behaviors of both reservoir operators and water users and their feedbacks. We develop a stylized socio-hydrological model using a combination of a feedforward and a proportional–integral–derivative (PID) controller. In the model, decisions of reservoir operators are determined by pre-defined operation rules, short-term forecasts, and their decaying memory of previous social costs caused by failures. Additionally, we consider that water users adapt themselves to hydrological variability while adjusting their water demand. These adaptive human behaviors can impact the long-term success of FIRO because of the gradual increase of water demand from society. Results provide insights on the hidden vulnerabilities of FIRO that may occur when hydrological, social, and technical systems are mismatched. Our findings demonstrate the importance of human behavior and interaction among different actors to increase the resilience of complex systems.

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