The work of CEE Associate Professor Faisal Hossain’s Sustainability, Satellites, Water and Environment research lab is featured in the May 2016 edition of the ASCE Civil Engineering Magazine, in an article titled “Blue Power.”
The article highlights how only a small percentage, about 3% of the more than 80,000 dams in the nation, are currently capable of producing electricity through hydropower. Hossain discusses the missed potential for hydropower, which he says is the result of keeping water at reservoirs at lower levels than needed during periods of overestimated flooding.
Hossain recommends that dam operation practices be reevaluated with more dynamic operating procedures in order to keep the water as high as possible for hydropower turbines to operate at full capacity without compromising flood mitigation potential. More accurate weather forecasts and observations are now available compared to 60 years ago when dam operating guidelines were drafted. It isn’t always necessary to decrease water levels so drastically when forecasts indicate a weaker flood to flow in the reservoir, Hossain says. Rather, he calls for a new approach that integrates modern weather forecasting with flood preparation to better meet hydropower needs without raising flood risks downstream.