A Nationwide Analysis of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reservoir Performance in Meeting Operational Targets
The United States (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers operates reservoirs across the U.S. with 89% of reservoirs constructed prior to 1980. Many reservoirs have experienced changes in environmental conditions (e.g., climate and sediment yield) and societal conditions (e.g., water/energy demand and ecological flows) since construction. These changes may challenge the potential for reservoirs to meet their operational targets (OTs) (management goals). Historic daily reservoir data and OTs were collected for 233 reservoirs. Analyses were developed to identify when and where reservoirs may be systematically departing from OTs in terms of the frequency and magnitude of departure. Fifty-six percent of reservoirs consistently met operating targets, 30% were borderline, and 13% experienced frequent and large magnitude departures. Fifty-two percent of reservoirs with large departures were due to shortages and were located in the South Pacific and Southwestern divisions. This work provides a framework to identify reservoir performance in relation to management goals, a necessary step for moving toward adaptive management under changing conditions. All individual reservoir analyses are provided via an interactive data visualization tool: https://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/reservoir-data.
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