Comparative Evaluation of Generalized River/Reservoir System Models

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Texas Water Resources Institute

This report reviews user-oriented generalized reservoir/river system models. The terms reservoir/river system, reservoir system, reservoir operation, or river basin management "model" or "modeling system" are used synonymously to refer to computer modeling systems that simulate the storage, flow, and diversion of water in a system of reservoirs and river reaches. Generalized means that a computer modeling system is designed for application to a range of concerns dealing with river basin systems of various configurations and locations, rather than being site-specific customized to a particular system. User-oriented implies the modeling system is designed for use by professional practitioners (model-users) other than the original model developers and is thoroughly tested and well documented. User-oriented generalized modeling systems should be convenient to obtain, understand, and use and should work correctly, completely, and efficiently. Modeling applications often involve a system of several simulation models, utility software products, and databases used in combination. A reservoir/river system model is itself a modeling system, which often serves as a component of a larger modeling system that may include watershed hydrology and river hydraulics models, water quality models, databases and various software tools for managing time series, spatial, and other types of data. Reservoir/river system models are based on volume-balance accounting procedures for tracking the movement of water through a system of reservoirs and river reaches. The model computes reservoir storage contents, evaporation, water supply withdrawals, hydroelectric energy generation, and river flows for specified system operating rules and input sequences of stream inflows and net evaporation rates. The hydrologic period-of-analysis and computational time step may vary greatly depending on the application. Storage and flow hydrograph ordinates for a flood event occurring over a few days may be determined at intervals of an hour or less. Water supply capabilities may be modeled with a monthly time step and several decade long period-of-analysis capturing the full range of fluctuating wet and dry periods including extended drought. Stream inflows are usually generated outside of the reservoir/river system model and provided as input to the model. However, reservoir/river system models may also include capabilities for modeling watershed precipitation-runoff processes to generate inflows to the river/reservoir system. Some reservoir/river system models simulate water quality constituents along with water quantities. Some models include features for economic evaluation of system performance based on cost and benefit functions expressed as a function of flow and storage.