Resolving the trade-off between silver eel escapement and hydropower generation with simple decision rules for turbine shutdown

TitleResolving the trade-off between silver eel escapement and hydropower generation with simple decision rules for turbine shutdown
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsTeichert, N, Tétard, S, Trancart, T, Feunteun, E, Acou, A, de Oliveira, E
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
KeywordsConservation policy, Decision rules, Multiple-criteria decision, Turbine shutdown

Hydropower plants are commonly reported as a major cause of the worldwide decline of freshwater eels (Anguillidae), so that management solutions are urgently needed to mitigate their impacts. Where downstream passage solutions are complex to develop, turbine shutdown appears as an effective management solution to protect silver eels during their river migration toward spawning areas. However, the definition of operational decision rules for turbine shutdown is challenging due to the duality between the benefit for eel conservation and the concomitant cost in term of hydropower production. Here, we proposed a decision framework for turbine shutdown based on simple hydrological criteria to guide negotiations between stakeholders toward a trade-off between silver eel escapement and hydropower generation. Eel migration was assumed to be triggered by a minimum river flow associated with a minimum discharge pulse, so that threshold values can be directly implemented as decision rules for turbine shutdown. To estimate relevant thresholds, a generic methodological framework was developed to generate alternative decision rules from data collected at hydropower plants, which can include telemetry surveys and estimates of eel abundance. A multiple-criteria decision analysis was then conducted to rank alternatives and to determine the best compromise between promoting silver eel escapement and limiting turbine shutdown duration. Graphic outputs can help stakeholders to understand the competitive interests between eel conservation and hydropower production, while visually identifying a range of consensual alternatives to support negotiations in the choice of operational thresholds. The method was illustrated for three river systems in Europe featured by distinct hydrological conditions and can be applied in other areas, providing that eel monitoring surveys and flow data are available.

Catégorie HCERES
ACL - Peer-reviewed articles
Publication coopération et recherche SUD