Environmental flows from dams: the water framework directive

M. Acreman, J. Aldrick, C. Binnie, A. Black, I. Cowx, H. Dawson, M. Dunbar, C. Extence, J. Hannaford, A. Harby, N. Holmes, N. Jarritt, G. Old, G. Peirson, J. Webb, P. Wood

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Citations (Scopus)


    The EU water framework directive (WFD) provides a template for sustainable water management across Europe. The WFD requires the development of procedures to ensure appropriate mitigation of anthropogenic impacts on river ecosystems resulting from water abstraction and impoundments. It is widely acknowledged that alterations to flow regime impact on riverine ecosystems. As a result, hydromorphology, which includes the hydrological regime, is embedded within the WFD as a supporting element to achieve good ecological status (GES). Environmental flow releases from impoundments such as reservoir dams will need to be implemented to mitigate impacts from their construction and operation. This paper outlines the process involved in the analysis of available scientific information and the development of guidance criteria for the setting of environmental flow release regimes for UK rivers. The paper describes two methods-developed by round-table expert knowledge and discussions and supported by available data-for implementation of the WFD for rivers subject to impoundments. The first is a method for preliminary assessment of a water body to determine if it is likely to fail to achieve GES because of changes to the flow regime (indexed by simple flow regime statistics) in systems where appropriate biological assessment methods are limited or currently unavailable. The second is a method for defining an environmental flow regime release based on the requirements of riverine ecological communities and indicator organisms for basic elements (building blocks) of the natural flow regime.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)13-22
    Number of pages10
    JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Engineering Sustainability
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • dams, barrages & reservoirs
    • hydrology & water resources
    • water supply
    • RIVERS
    • STREAM
    • FISH


    Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental flows from dams: the water framework directive'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this