Managing Water for Energy and Nature: Integrating Stakeholder Values and Basin-Scale Models in the Connecticut River Watershed

Wednesday, August 20, 2014: 11:10 AM
304B (Centre des congrès de Québec // Québec City Convention Centre)
Katie Kennedy , Connecticut River Program, The Nature Conservancy, Northampton, MA
Kim Lutz , Connecticut River Program, The Nature Conservancy
Jeff Opperman , The Nature Conservancy
Rick Palmer , Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jocelyn Anleitner , Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Like most large rivers, the Connecticut River is a highly-managed system with multiple and diverse users.  Hydropower is one of the dominant uses of water in this system, and as the global demand for clean, carbon-neutral energy increases, it will likely continue to comprise a dominant portion of the basin’s water use.  The negative impacts of hydropower on the ecological function and integrity of river systems are widely documented.  Increasingly, conservation organizations, resource agencies and the hydropower industry are seeking solutions for increasing the sustainability of hydropower, including reducing impacts on river ecosystems.  With multiple partners, The Nature Conservancy has developed a series of basin-wide hydrological and water-management models for the Connecticut River that can compare various reservoir-operation alternatives in terms of their impact on multiple values, including those for ecosystem function and hydropower generation.  These models were developed to foster collaborative water management solutions, both in the present and in the context of a changing climate.  Using these models, we provide an example of how multiple stakeholder objectives can be considered in a basin-wide assessment, and how various alternative solutions may be compared in order to find solutions that optimize the many competing uses of the Connecticut River.