HydroVision Preview: Water Resources: It Always Comes Down to the Science

Water Resources is one of the ten tracks being offered at HydroVision International 2010. Experts will discuss how the hydroelectric industry has worked for the past 25 years to show the environmental soundness of hydropower and to improve the way hydro facilities are designed and operated.

In the early years of hydropower generation, the environmental soundness of this resource rarely was questioned. In fact, early opposition to hydroelectric development primarily stemmed from land use and land ownership issues. At that time, little was done in the way of scientific studies designed to understand the effects of hydropower development and operation on rivers and their ecosystems.

However, for the past 25 years, owners of hydroelectric facilities throughout the world have been performing scientific studies to assess the environmental effects and to find better ways to design and operate projects. During the Water Resources track at HydroVision International 2010, to be held July 27-30 in Charlotte, N.C., subject matter experts will address seven areas of cutting-edge science that provide attendees with a greater understanding of how hydropower projects fit into the environment.

Science-based panels

The first two sessions in the Water Resources track feature science-based panels that biologists, hydro project owners and developers, and others interested in the environmental aspects of hydro will not want to miss.

Tim Brush with Normandeau Associates Inc. will lead a panel of experts providing an overview of the latest Hot Topics in Fisheries Management. Conference delegates attending this session will hear panelists discuss some of the most current studies and work project owners are doing to address fisheries effects. Experts lending their point of view to this discussion include John Esler with Portland General Electric, Amanda Hill with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Paul Jacobson with EPRI, and Jennifer Hill with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Next, Hugh Barwick with Duke Energy Carolinas LLC will lead a session entitled: Achieving Ecosystems Sustainability: To Manage or Restore? The diverse panel of experts aiding this discussion includes William Richkus with Versar Inc., Greg Jennings with North Carolina State University, and Bruce Meaker with Snohomish County Public Utility District. These panelists will help conference delegates explore the contradictions of dynamic natural systems versus the often steady state of societal expectations. Are hydro project owners allowing culture to drive these decisions, or should natural science be the primary driver? This session will help delegates mesh public policy desires with the realities of the natural world.

Three sessions on Thursday

On Thursday, July 29, the Water Resources track will feature three sessions, starting with Are World Travelers Visiting Your Reservoirs? What to Do about Aquatic Invasive Species. Michele M. Drake, compliance coordinator for Avista Corporation, will lead a panel of biologists – including Russell Stein with the California Department of Water Resources, Robert Plotnikoff with Tetra Tech Inc., and Ken Manuel with Duke Energy – in a discussion about the proliferation of aquatic invasive species throughout the world. Panelists will explore the role of hydropower in this issue and will provide case studies to illustrate successful methods for controlling these unwelcome visitors.

In the second session on Thursday, environmental scientist David Olson with HDR Inc. will lead a panel of experts in a discussion about Using Adaptive Management during Changing Conditions. The panelists will focus on how hydropower can serve as a tool to balance economic viability with all of the stewardship demands on a project. James W. Thornton with Dominion, Diane Barr with PacifiCorp, and Lars Oyvind Odegard with Sweco Norge AS will join Olson in exploring how hydropower can help to provide water supply storage, timed releases, water quality protection, downstream flood protection, and peaking power, as well as the evolving power grid support needed from hydropower. Can hydropower serve all of these needs and still maintain the necessary flexibility to remain financially viable? This panel likely will engage in a lively discourse that involves conference delegates.

Hot Topics in Fisheries Management is one of the sessions in the Water Resources Track at the HydroVision International 2010 conference.

Thursday’s water resources sessions will conclude with Avoiding Analysis Paralysis – Effectively Using Science in Decision-Making. Lisa Wieland Larson with Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Inc. will lead panelists Brent Moore with TRC, Glenn F. Cada with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Catherine E. Shively with Northeast Utilities Service Company, and Debbie C. Young with Tacoma Power as conference delegates attempt to understand when they have enough data to move forward. Do studies simply lead to more studies, or are there points where enough data exists to make a decision? What is the effect of long-term monitoring studies?

Closing the track

As HydroVision International wraps up three days of sessions on Friday, the closing panel discussions are sure to be of interest to all scientists in attendance.

For the Water Resources track, the morning begins with John Clerici with CirclePoint leading a group of panelists in a session entitled Basin-Wide Resource Management: Who Is at the Table and Where Does Hydropower Sit? Panelists for this session include Joe Heil with Ontario Power Generation Inc., Michael R. Smith with Trout Unlimited, and Victoria Taylor with the Catawba-Wateree Relicensing Coalition. This session will provide conference delegates with the opportunity to explore case studies from throughout the world regarding basin-wide management plans and the role of hydropower in those plans. Is hydropower the driver, or does it merely rate a seat at the table?

The track concludes with one of the most current scientific topics associated with hydropower: Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoirs – Filling the Knowledge Gap. Catrin van Donkelaar with Eugene Water and Electric Board will lead a group of experts in updating conference delegates on the most recent body of knowledge regarding the real effects of reservoirs on greenhouse gas emissions. The panelists – Joel Avruch Goldenfum with the International Hydropower Association, Brennan T. Smith with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Alain Tremblay with Hydro-Quebec – will discuss predictive models and real-time measurements. Is more data necessary to claim reservoirs are not polluting the air? Conference delegates will leave this session armed with current science on this topic.

The Water Resources track is a can’t-miss part of the HydroVision International conference!  

Mike Murphy is principal with TRC Companies Inc. He is the track chair for the Water Resources track at HydroVision International 2010, to be held July 27-30 in Charlotte, N.C.


Water Resources Focus at HydroVision International 2010 

  • Hot Topics in Fisheries Management; Achieving Ecosystems Sustainability: To Manage or Restore;
  • Are World Travelers Visiting Your Reservoirs? What to Do about Aquatic Invasive Species;
  • Using Adaptive Management during Changing Conditions;
  • Avoiding Analysis Paralysis – Effectively Using Science in Decision-Making;
  • Basin-Wide Resource Management: Who Is at the Table and Where Does Hydropower Sit?; and
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoirs – Filling the Knowledge Gap.

To learn more about HydroVision International, go to www.hydroevent.com. 

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