Modeling the Ecological Impacts of Flaming Gorge Dam Operations

by S. C. L. Yin,
K. E. LaGory,
J. W. Hayse,
I. Hlohowskyj,
R. A. Van Lonkhuyzen,
H. E. Cho,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water


Hydropower operations at Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River in Utah, U.S.A., can produce rapid downstream changes in flow and stage during a day. These changes can, in turn, affect ecological resources below the dam, including riparian vegetation, trout, and endangered fish. Four hydropower operational scenarios featunng varying degrees of hydropower-induced flow fluctuation were evaluated with hydrologic models and multispectral aerial videography of the river. Year-round high fluctuations would support the least amount of stable spawning habitat for trout and nursery habitat for endangered fish, and would have the greatest potential for reducing growth and overwinter survival of fish. Seasonally adjusted moderate fluctuation and seasonally adjusted steady flow scenarios could increase food production and overwinter survival and would provide the greatest amount of spawning and nursery habitat for fish. The year-round high fluctuation, seasonally adjusted high fluctuation, and seasonally adjusted moderate fluctuation scenarios would result in a 5% decrease in upper riparian zone habitat. The seasonally adjusted steady flow scenario would result in an 8% increase m upper riparian zone habitat. Lower riparian zone habitat would increase by about 17% for year-round and seasonally adjusted high fluctuating flow scenarios but decrease by about 24% and 69% for seasonally adjusted moderate fluctuating and steady flow scenarios, respectively.

Subject Headings: Seasonal variations | Fish and fishery management | Dams | Steady flow | Hydrologic models | Hydro power | Ecosystems | Utah | United States

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