SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Development of a SWAT hydropower operation routine and its application to assessing hydrological alterations in the Mekong 
Authors:Shrestha, J.P., M. Pahlow and T.A. Cochrane 
Volume (Issue):12 (8) 
Article ID:2193 
URL (non-DOI journals): 
Model:SWAT (modified) 
Broad Application Category:data or component development 
Primary Application Category:reservoirs, ponds and/or other impoundment effects  
Secondary Application Category:hydropower assessment 
Watershed Description:78,650 km^2 combined Sekong, Sesan and Srepok (3S) Rivers, which are tributaries of the Mekong River System and drain portions of Cambodia (33%), Lao PDR (29%) and Vietnam (38%). 
Calibration Summary: 
Validation Summary: 
General Comments: 
Abstract:Reservoir operations and climate change can alter natural river flow regimes. To assess impacts of climate and hydropower operations on downstream flows and energy generation, an integrated hydropower operations and catchment hydrological model is needed. The widely used hydrological model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is ideal for catchment hydrology, but provides only limited reservoir operation functions. A hydropower reservoir operation routine (HydROR) was thus developed for SWAT to analyze complex reservoir systems under different policies. The Hydrologic Engineering Center’s Reservoir System Simulation (HEC-ResSim) model, a well-established reservoir simulation model, was used to indirectly evaluate functionality of the HydROR. A comparison between HydROR and HEC-ResSim under a range of operation rule curves resulted in R2 values exceeding 0.99. The HydROR was then applied to assess hydrological alterations due to combined impacts of climate change and reservoir operations of 38 hydropower dams in the 3S basin of the Mekong River. Hydropower production under climate change varied from −1.6% to 2.3%, depending on the general circulation model chosen. Changing the hydropower operation policy from maximizing energy production to maintaining ecological flows resulted in a production change of 13%. The calculation of hydrological alteration indices at the outlet of the 3S basin revealed that over 113% alteration in the natural river outflow regime occurred from the combined impacts of climate change and reservoir operations. Furthermore, seasonal flows and extreme water conditions changed by 154% and 104%, respectively. Alterations were also significant within the basin, and, as expected, were larger for high-head and small-river reservoirs. These alterations will adversely affect ecological dynamics, in particular, habitat availability. HydROR proved to be a valuable addition to SWAT for the analyses of complex reservoir systems under different policies and climate change scenarios. 
Keywords:reservoir operations; flow regime; SWAT; HydROR; climate change; operation polices; hydrological alterations; Mekong