Speaker: Leki Dorji, Lecturer in Civil Engineering Department
A study on environmental flows is a recent endeavor to ensure the sustainability of the aquatic ecosystem while meeting the increasing demands of off-stream water uses. The Brisbane Declaration defined the environmental flows as the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihood and well-being that depend on these ecosystems.
Numerous studies on environmental flow assessment and frameworks have been developed in an effort to understand ecological impacts and to protect aquatic diversity in the face of rapid exploitation of freshwater ecosystems.
In Bhutan, while hydropower is becoming the primary economic driver of the country, the freshwater ecosystems supported by the network of fast-flowing rivers are dammed for hydropower generation. As per the power systems master plan 2003-2022, 76 projects were identified including 70 run-of-the-river and 6 reservoir schemes with a capacity of 23,760 MW.
The unchecked damming of the river systems poses serious implications for our effort to promote a holistic approach to development with environmental conservation. The freshwater ecosystems would be seriously impacted without proper regulations to safeguard these critical freshwater biodiversities.
This study would basically to set up minimum environmental flow requirements for every watercourse to ensure the conservation of the aquatic ecosystem in a dewatered stretched of hydropower Project.