Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-691
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
04 Jan 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Value of seasonal streamflow forecasts in emergency response reservoir management
Sean W. D. Turner1, James Bennett2, David Robertson3, and Stefano Galelli3 1SUTD-MIT International Design Centre, Singapore University of Technology and Design, 487372, Singapore
2CSIRO, Melbourne, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia
3Pillar of Engineering Systems and Design, Singapore University of Technology and Design, 487372, Singapore
Abstract. Considerable research effort has recently been directed at improving ensemble seasonal streamflow forecasts, and transferring these methods into operational services. This paper examines the value of forecasts when applied to a range hypothetical reservoirs. We compare forecast-informed reservoir operations with operations based on more traditional control rules established from historical records. Using synthetic forecasts, we show that forecast-informed operations can improve reservoir operations where forecasts are accurate, but that this benefit is far more likely to occur in reservoirs operated for continually adjusted objectives (e.g., for hydropower generation) than compared with those operated for emergency response objectives (e.g., urban water supply, for which water use restrictions are seldom imposed). We then test whether a modern experimental forecasting system — called Forecast Guided Stochastic Scenarios (FoGSS) — can benefit a wide range of reservoirs operated for emergency response objectives. FoGSS-informed operations improved reservoir operations in a large majority of the reservoirs tested. In the catchments where FoGSS forecasts sometimes failed to improve operations over conventional control rules, we show that this is partly due to less consistently skilful forecasts at the timing during critical decisions are made.

Citation: Turner, S. W. D., Bennett, J., Robertson, D., and Galelli, S.: Value of seasonal streamflow forecasts in emergency response reservoir management, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-691, in review, 2017.
Sean W. D. Turner et al.
Sean W. D. Turner et al.
Sean W. D. Turner et al.

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Short summary
This study explores the value of seasonal streamflow forecasts for improving the operation of water reservoirs. Using data from a modern forecasting system (named FoGSS), we show that forecast-informed operations are more likely to provide benefits for continually adjusted objectives (e.g. hydropower production) rather than emergency response objectives (e.g. urban water supply). We provide specific recommendations for assessing the value of streamflow forecasts for emergency response systems.
This study explores the value of seasonal streamflow forecasts for improving the operation of...
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