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Mathematical modeling applied to integrated water resources management: the case of Mesta-Nestos basin

Abstract : The construction of a big dam is a project of important economic and social consequences and this is the reason why it should be preceded by a careful socio-economic and operational study. On one hand, the operational investigation should take into account the dam's dimensions and purpose, the location of its wartershed and its hydrology characteristics as well as the environmental constraints according to the international and national legislation. On the other hand, the socio-economic study should take into account all the variables which ensure the sustainability of the project. Until a few years ago, the vast majority of dams were funded and consequently owned by the public sector, thus project profitability was not of highest priority in the decision of their construction. Nowadays, the liberalisation of the electricity market in the developed world has led to the privatisation of energy infrastructures and has set new economic standards in the funding and management of dam projects. Investment decision is conditioned to an evaluated viability and profitability over the full life cycle of the project, typically 50 years, on the basis of quantitative criteria such as the Net Present Value (NPV). However, since the fuel of a hydropower plant is water, its operation interferes with the water resources management of the river basin where it is situated. To this respect, new practices and regulations have recently developed such as the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). They constrain any water resources project into following guidelines regarding its social and environmental impacts in accordance with long term issues such as its sustainability under climate change conditions. The present work aims at exploring the coupling of mathematical models of hydrology, hydropower operation, climate change and economics in order to propose ways of making balanced decisions merging the demands of project investment criteria, public well being and river basin management best practices. It is illustrated by the investigation of the new hydropower and irrigation project of Temenos in the Mesta/Nestos river basin. This basin is shared between Bulgaria in its upstream northern part and Greece for its downstream part. The river ends in Aegean Sea after expanding into the Nestos delta which is occupied by a vast expanse of irrigated fields. Currently, two hydroelectric power plants are located in the mountainous part of the Nestos basin: the Thissavros plant with a reservoir capacity of 565 millions m3 and further downstream, the Platanovryssi dam with a reservoir capacity of 11 millions m3. Both dams have been designed to operate in pump-storage mode for electricity generation. The future Temenos project is planned to be financed exclusively on private funds. Situated downstream from the previous dams, it is designed for: electricity production, irrigation regulation and should contribute to the improvement of the power produced by the existing complex. The climate change scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) with the publication of the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) reveal possible future climate modifications at global scale. More specifically, according to the output of the several global circulation models (GCM), the global average surface temperature is predicted to increase by 1.4 to 5.8°C over the period 1990 to 2100. These temperature increases should drive evaporation rate increases and precipitation fluctuations. Consequently, a severe impact could result upon hydropower generation as it is sensitive to the amount, timing, and geographical pattern of precipitation as well as temperature. Climate change studies over the Mesta-Nestos area have been based on the output of the CLM regional climate model from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany. They concern the SRES scenarios A1B and B1. The CLM model uses a dynamically downscaling technique where boundaries conditions provided by global scale models such as ECHAM5/MPIOM are adapted to local conditions such as relief. The temperature, precipitation and evapotranspiration results obtained from CLM were used as input data to the spatially distributed hydrology model MODSUR-NEIGE for simulating the future water regime of the river basin. It was coupled with the HEC-ResSim reservoir simulation tool using a detailed technical representation of the dams and irrigation networks systems planned for the expansion of the existing irrigation in the Nestos delta and Xanthi plain areas. Finally, the appraisal of the Temenos project viability under future climatic conditions was carried out with the use of a special purpose economic tool which is based on the NPV rule. The thesis proposes a holistic approach to project evaluation which goes beyond strict project financing practices. The NPV based rule has been extended the merging of economic elements (energy and water selling prices) with social benefits (compensation to farmers in case of lack of water) and the value of the environment (costs for restoration good water status in case of failure to preserve a minimum environmental flow). It is argued that this combined approach offers a useful evaluation of the sustainability of water projects. Furthermore, climate scenarios have been augmented by transboundary politics hypotheses based on the execution of on-going flow treaty existing between Bulgaria and Greece about the Mesta-Nestos waters. Finally, in the context of compliance with the WFD basin management guidelines, the use of multicriteria decision analysis methods is explored in order to balance the conflicts of interests between all the actors which should be participating in the ultimate decision of financing and operating a multipurpose dam project such as Temenos.
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  • HAL Id : pastel-00004775, version 1

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Charalampos Skoulikaris. Mathematical modeling applied to integrated water resources management: the case of Mesta-Nestos basin. Hydrology. École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris, 2008. English. ⟨NNT : 2008ENMP1571⟩. ⟨pastel-00004775⟩

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