Impacts and Adaptation to Climate Change Using a Reservoir Management Tool to a Northern Watershed: Application to Lièvre River Watershed, Quebec, Canada

Research paper by Uriel Francisco Huaringa Alvarez, Mélanie Trudel, Robert Leconte

Indexed on: 29 May '14Published on: 29 May '14Published in: Water Resources Management


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of climate change (CC) on the management of the three reservoirs in the Lièvre River watershed and to investigate adaptation strategies to CC. To accomplish this objective, a reservoir management tool was developed. The tool integrates: hydrological ensemble streamflow predictions; a stochastic optimization model; a neural network model; and a water balance model. Five climate projections from a regional climate model, under current (1961–2000) and future (2041–2070) climate scenarios, were used. Adjustments to the reservoirs operating rules were used as an adaptation strategy to limit flooding in the watershed and also in the Montreal Archipelago located downstream of the watershed. A number of constraints in the reservoirs of the Lièvre watershed are related to summer recreational activities, which would start earlier in future climate. Modifications of these constraints were simulated to take into account socio-economic impacts of climate change on reservoirs operation. Results show that greater quantities of water would have to be stored in the Lièvre River watershed in the future, to decrease the risk of flooding in the Montreal Archipelago. The reservoir located at the downstream end of the watershed would be more vulnerable and its reliability may decrease in the future. Adaptation measures reduced the inter-annual variability of the reservoir level under future climate conditions. The reservoir management tool is an example of a no-regrets strategy, as it will contribute to improve the tools currently available to manage the reservoirs of the Lièvre River watershed.