Water Resources Adaptation to Climate and Demand Change in the Potomac River
Stagge, James H.
Moglen, Glenn E.
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The effects of climate change are increasingly considered in conjunction with changes in water demand and reservoir sedimentation in forecasts of water supply vulnerability. Here, the relative effects of these factors are evaluated for the Washington, DC metropolitan area water supply for the near (2010-2039), intermediate (2040-2069), and distant (2070-2099) future by repeated water resources model simulations. This system poses water management challenges because of long water-delivery travel times that increase uncertainty, multiple water jurisdictions that constrain potential decisions, and future scenarios that simultaneously increase demand and decrease water supply during the critical summer period. Adaptation strategies were developed for the system using a multiobjective evolutionary algorithm. Optimized reservoir management policies were compared using six distinct objectives ranging from reservoir storage to environmental and recreational benefits. Simulations of future conditions show water stress increasing with time. Reservoir sedimentation is projected to more than double (114% increase) the severity of reservoir storage failures by 2040. Increases in water demand and climate change are projected to further stress the system, causing longer periods of low flow and a loss of recreational reservoir storage. The adoption of optimized rules mitigates some of these effects, most notably returning simulations of 2070-2099 climate to near historical levels. Modifying the balance between upstream and downstream reservoirs improved storage penalties by 20.7% and flowby penalties by 50%. Changing triggers for shifting load to off-line reservoirs improved flowby (8.3%) and environmental (4.1%) penalties slightly, whereas changing demand restriction triggers provided only moderate improvements, but with few adverse effects. (C) 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers.