Predicting environmental mitigation requirements for hydropower projects through the integration of biophysical and socio-political geographies.
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Uncertainty about environmental mitigation needs at existing and proposed hydropower projects makes it difficult for stakeholders to minimize environmental impacts. Hydropower developers and operators desire tools to better anticipate mitigation requirements, while natural resource managers and regulators need tools to evaluate different mitigation scenarios and order effective mitigation. Here we sought to examine the feasibility of using a suite of multi-faceted explanatory variables within a spatially explicit modeling framework to fit predictive models for future environmental mitigation requirements at hydropower projects across the conterminous U.S. Using a database comprised of mitigation requirements from more than 300 hydropower project licenses, we were able to successfully fit models for nearly 50 types of environmental mitigation and to apply the predictive models to a set of more than 500 non-powered dams identified as having hydropower potential. The results demonstrate that mitigation requirements are functions of a range of factors, from biophysical to socio-political. Project developers can use these models to inform cost projections and design considerations, while regulators can use the models to more quickly identify likely environmental issues and potential solutions, hopefully resulting in more timely and more effective decisions on environmental mitigation.
author list (cited authors)
DeRolph, C. R., Schramm, M. P., & Bevelhimer, M. S.
complete list of authors
DeRolph, Christopher R||Schramm, Michael P||Bevelhimer, Mark S