Completed research project: Sustainable floodplain management and hydropower

The image shows hydropeaking on the river Saane.

In the completed NRP 70 project, tools were provided for the sustainable development of hydropower production and restoration actions were evaluated and optimised.

Hydropower production is an important component of the Energy Strategy 2050. Its sustainable development is mandatory, and application of adaptive flow management, reactivation of sediment dynamics and restoration of rivers and floodplains is becoming more rigorous and obligatory.

Under the leadership of Prof. Anton Schleiss, the research team developed tools and indicators for the sustainable development of hydropower production and at the same time evaluated and optimised restoration measures such as adaptive management of flow and sediment regimes.

For this, the development and testing of indicators linking hydromorphological structure (e.g. habitat diversity) and ecological function (e.g. biodiversity, microbial activity) applicable for the evaluation of restoration actions across different floodplains and impacts, comprehensive hydraulic modelling to quantify and predict the ecological potential of restoration actions, and remote sensing techniques such as drones for spatially explicit monitoring at the floodplain scale was integrated. The numerical models developed led to improvements in the Hydro-Morphological Index of Diversity (HMID) and evaluation of geomorphological properties (change estimation in floodplain heterogeneity) of restoration measures. Under residual flow conditions, the limits and potential of the HMID have been identified.