Hydropower plants and the environments through which they are deployed are extremely diverse, and significant knowledge gaps remain related to fish and wildlife biology, behavior, and interactions with hydropower facilities. There are also several critical limitations in instrumentation and monitoring tools and technologies to understand the environmental impacts of hydropower. Uncertainties about long-term hydrologic variations or extreme events and the associated operational and ecological impacts are of increasing concern within the industry. Scientific advances that allow developers and operators to more effectively identify and mitigate potential impacts ultimately allow for more effective utilization of existing hydropower and reduced regulatory costs.
Through its Environmental and Hydrologic Systems Science Activity Area, WPTO aims to address these challenges through the following approaches:
- Improve monitoring technologies to study river systems and evaluate environmental impacts
- Develop technologies and strategies to avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impacts
- Support the development of metrics to better evaluate environmental sustainability for new hydropower developments
- Assess potential impacts of long-term hydrologic variations to hydropower
- Improve abilities to assess risk of potential methane emissions from reservoirs.