Conceptual modelling to assess hydrological impacts and evaluate environmental flow scenarios in montane river systems regulated for hydropower

J. Geris*, D Tetzlaff, J. Seibert, M. Vis, C Soulsby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


To improve understanding of natural and managed flow regimes in data-sparse regulated river systems in montane areas, the commonly used Hydrologiska Byråns Vattenbalansavdelning (HBV) conceptual run-off model was adapted to incorporate water regulation components. The extended model was then applied to the heavily regulated river Lyon (391km2) in Scotland to reconstruct the natural flow regime and to assess the impacts of regulation at increasing spatial scales. Multi-criteria model evaluation demonstrated that the model performed well in capturing the dominant catchment processes and regulation effects, especially at the timescales at which operation rules apply. The main change as a result of regulation in the river Lyon is a decrease in inter-annual and intra-annual variability of all elements of the flow regime, in terms of magnitude, frequency, and duration. Although these impacts are most pronounced directly downstream of the impoundments, the regulation effects propagate throughout the river system. The modelling approach is flexible and widely applicable and only limited amounts of data are required. Moreover, results are easily communicated to stakeholders. It has the potential to contribute to the development of flow regimes that may be more beneficial to the ecological status of rivers. In the case of the river Lyon, it is likely that this involves a more variable release regime. The approach developed here provides a tool for assessing impacts on flow regimes and informing environmental flows in other data-sparse regions with heavily regulated montane river systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1081
Number of pages16
JournalRiver Research and Applications
Issue number9
Early online date15 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

The authors thank SSE for water transfer and release data and supplying additional information about the regulation regime. Other British institutions are thanked for supplying discharge (SEPA), temperature (SEPA and BADC) and precipitation (SEPA, BADC, and MetOffice) data. Many thanks also to Jane Bang Poulsen for her assistance in digitizing historical precipitation data.


  • E-flows
  • HBV
  • Rainfall-run-off modelling
  • Regulation


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