Dongting Lake, a large river-connected lake in the Yangtze River watershed, plays important roles in flood control, drought mitigation, and biodiversity conservation. Its ecosystem has recently been severely affected by upstream water resource development such as reservoir operations. In this study, an optimization model is developed for the operation of a multi-reservoir system, including the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) on the upper Yangtze River and 8 major reservoirs on the tributaries to Dongting Lake. The optimal target in pursuit of the ecological objective is to maximize the environmental water demand (EWD) satisfaction of the lake. A support vector regression-based model is used to predict the response of the lake level to reservoir operations. The optimization is carried out under different scenarios for both normal and dry conditions, and the results show that: (i) the existing operation policy could result in significant hydrologic alteration; (ii) in the normal condition, the proposed optimal joint operation policy could increase the general EWD satisfaction rate of Dongting Lake from 85.4% to 95.7%; and (iii) the improvement of EWD satisfaction in the normal condition is mainly affected by the TGR, while in the dry condition, the southern and western lake regions are more sensitive to the tributaries' reservoirs.
- Dongting Lake
- environmental water demand
- multi-reservoir system
- optimal operation
- river-connected lake
- First received 26 January 2016.
- Accepted in revised form 9 May 2016.
- © 2016 The Authors
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