Planning dam portfolios for low sediment trapping shows limits for sustainable hydropower in the Mekong

To highlight the importance of strategic planning on multiple scales to minimize hydropower impacts on rivers, we contribute an optimization-based framework for strategic sequencing of dam development. We quantify lost opportunities from past development and identify remaining opportunities for better tradeoffs between sediment and hydropower. We find that limited opportunities remain for less impactful hydropower in the lower basin, where most development is currently planned, while better trade-offs could be reached with dams in the upper Mekong in China.

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Schmitt, R.J.P, S. Bizzi, A. Castelletti, J.J. Opperman, and G.M. Kondolf

Publication Date

23 Oct 2019

Publication Name

Science Advances


Sediment transport, food production, CASCADE model