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Can climate knowledge enable Warragamba Dam, Sydney, Australia to be used to manage flood risk?

Authors
  • Devanand, Anjana
  • Pitman, Andy J
  • Carvajal, Guido
  • Khan, Stuart J
Type
Published Article
Journal
Environmental Research Letters
Publisher
IOP Publishing
Publication Date
Nov 23, 2023
Volume
18
Issue
12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ad0afb
Source
ioppublishing
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Letter
License
Unknown

Abstract

Dams that serve a dual purpose of water supply and flood mitigation operate to maintain a defined full supply level of water that balances the two conflicting requirements. To optimize the use of available storage space, the full supply level may be adjusted to reflect changing risks of future water shortages and future flood inflows based on known seasonal variations and current observations. The Warragamba Dam in eastern Australia is located upstream of the populated Hawkesbury-Nepean valley which has one of the largest flood exposures in the country. However, the operating protocol of the reservoir does not include provisions to reduce the full supply level of the dam for flood mitigation. Large scale climate indicators that are known to influence the hydroclimate of this region may potentially contain useful information to inform the dual use of this reservoir, but their utility for this purpose has not been studied. Here we explore whether current observations of large-scale climate along with antecedent catchment conditions can be used to estimate the probability of large inflows into the reservoir in the next 3- and 6 months, to aid flood management. We find that the predictors have a substantial influence on the probability of large inflows. The probability differences during opposite predictor phases vary by season and range from 30% to 70%. Our results indicate that considering current climate information to inform dual use of the Warragamba dam has merit.

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