Improved Reservoir Operations for Ecosystem Health in the Connecticut River Basin

cropped-CT-River.jpgProper management of a complex river system requires careful evaluation of the natural river ecosystem, the constructed infrastructure, environmental requirements, informed decision-making, and the needs of those living in the basin. The largest and one of the most highly developed rivers in New England, the Connecticut River has had its natural flows altered due to both the development of dams and reservoirs and substantial changes in land use and urbanization (and its associated increase in the discharge of storm water and wastewater). A significant change on the Connecticut is the reduction in the naturalConnecticut_River_Map variability of the flow regime.   This is a detriment to the substantial ecosystem restoration efforts being made within the basin, including the reintroduction of Atlantic Salmon and restoration of floodplain forest ecosystems.  In this project we will model the major infrastructure that alters flows in the Connecticut and evaluate how operational policies might be modified to enhance the environmental quality of the timing and magnitude of streamflows.   The use of hydrologic forecasts on daily to seasonal timescales will be evaluated in close collaboration with the operator of the major water infrastructure. This project is funded by The Nature Conservancy.