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Quantifying cooperation benefits for new dams in transboundary water systems without formal operating rules

Quantifying cooperation benefits for new dams in transboundary water systems without formal operating rules
Quantifying cooperation benefits for new dams in transboundary water systems without formal operating rules
New dams impact downstream ecosystems and water infrastructure; without cooperative and adaptive management, negative impacts can manifest. In large complex transboundary river basins without well codified operating rules and extensive historical data, it can be difficult to assess the benefits of cooperating, in particular in relation to new dams. This constitutes a barrier to harmonious development of river basins and could contribute to water conflict. This study proposes a generalised framework to assess the benefits of cooperation on the management of new dams in water resource systems that do not have formal sharing arrangements. Benefits are estimated via multi-criteria comparison of historical reservoir operations (usually relatively uncooperative) vs. adopting new cooperative rules which would achieve the best results for riparian countries as evaluated by a water resources simulator and its performance metrics. The approach is applied to the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam (PMD), which is being built in Ghana in the Volta river basin. The PMD could impact downstream ecosystems and infrastructure in Ghana and could itself be impacted by how the existing upstream Bagre Dam is managed in Burkina Faso. Results show that with cooperation Ghana and Burkina Faso could both increase energy production although some ecosystem services loss would need to be mitigated. The study confirms that cooperative rules achieve higher overall benefits compared to seeking benefits only for individual dams or countries.
Volta river basin, cooperation in transboundary water systems, dam operating policies, hydropower and ecosystem service trade-offs, many-objective trade-off analysis
2296-665X
Gonzalez, Jose M.
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Matrosov, Evgenii S.
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Obuobie, Emmanuel
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Mul, Marloes
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Pettinotti, Laetitia
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Gebrechorkos, Solomon
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Sheffield, Justin
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Bottacin-Busolin, Andrea
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Dalton, James
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Smith, D. Mark
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Harou, Julien J.
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Gonzalez, Jose M.
c3e00a79-7356-46b0-a761-a9e37e57c3f4
Matrosov, Evgenii S.
3ea79e04-dbcc-40e2-a283-1ce71d40e933
Obuobie, Emmanuel
2815fc82-26ff-4bcb-8c69-e52cb815ef2b
Mul, Marloes
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Pettinotti, Laetitia
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Gebrechorkos, Solomon
ff77f8a3-b6ef-4cfd-aebd-a003bf3947a5
Sheffield, Justin
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Bottacin-Busolin, Andrea
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Dalton, James
5eafd268-32fc-4c0a-92d7-6a38e30b1bac
Smith, D. Mark
84f21371-0154-4946-88a0-916deef94ee6
Harou, Julien J.
24650403-4321-4e52-b93c-9e3e20cabc67

Gonzalez, Jose M., Matrosov, Evgenii S., Obuobie, Emmanuel, Mul, Marloes, Pettinotti, Laetitia, Gebrechorkos, Solomon, Sheffield, Justin, Bottacin-Busolin, Andrea, Dalton, James, Smith, D. Mark and Harou, Julien J. (2021) Quantifying cooperation benefits for new dams in transboundary water systems without formal operating rules. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 9, [596612]. (doi:10.3389/fenvs.2021.596612).

Record type: Article

Abstract

New dams impact downstream ecosystems and water infrastructure; without cooperative and adaptive management, negative impacts can manifest. In large complex transboundary river basins without well codified operating rules and extensive historical data, it can be difficult to assess the benefits of cooperating, in particular in relation to new dams. This constitutes a barrier to harmonious development of river basins and could contribute to water conflict. This study proposes a generalised framework to assess the benefits of cooperation on the management of new dams in water resource systems that do not have formal sharing arrangements. Benefits are estimated via multi-criteria comparison of historical reservoir operations (usually relatively uncooperative) vs. adopting new cooperative rules which would achieve the best results for riparian countries as evaluated by a water resources simulator and its performance metrics. The approach is applied to the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam (PMD), which is being built in Ghana in the Volta river basin. The PMD could impact downstream ecosystems and infrastructure in Ghana and could itself be impacted by how the existing upstream Bagre Dam is managed in Burkina Faso. Results show that with cooperation Ghana and Burkina Faso could both increase energy production although some ecosystem services loss would need to be mitigated. The study confirms that cooperative rules achieve higher overall benefits compared to seeking benefits only for individual dams or countries.

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Accepted/In Press date: 22 March 2021
Published date: 7 May 2021
Additional Information: Funding Information: The PMD is being implemented in the White Volta sub-basin in the Upper East region of Ghana, downstream of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso (Mosello et al., 2017; Baah-Kumi and Ward, 2020). The project is managed by the Volta River Authority (VRA), in collaboration with the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) and funded by the Ghanaian government. The PMD is expected to contribute to the development of Northern Ghana, one of the countries’ poorest regions (Darko et al., 2019). According to Volta River Authority (2018) the PMD has the potential to irrigate 20,000 ha and to produce 176 GWh. Another function of the PMD would be flood protection resulting from intense rainfall events in northern Ghana, exacerbated by spills from the Bagre Dam (Darko et al., 2019). Funding Information: The authors thank the national and regional stakeholders who contributed to the BMU (Germany) funded IUCN-led WISE-UP to Climate project (http://www.waterandnature.org/initiatives/wise-climate). The authors acknowledge the use of the Computational Shared Facility of the University of Manchester and associated support services. Funding. The authors acknowledge UKRI research funding through the ?Future Design and Assessment of water-energy-food-environment Mega Systems? (FutureDAMS) research project (ES/P011373/1). Funding Information: The authors acknowledge UKRI research funding through the “Future Design and Assessment of water-energy-food-environment Mega Systems” (FutureDAMS) research project (ES/P011373/1). Publisher Copyright: © Copyright © 2021 Gonzalez, Matrosov, Obuobie, Mul, Pettinotti, Gebrechorkos, Sheffield, Bottacin-Busolin, Dalton, Smith and Harou.
Keywords: Volta river basin, cooperation in transboundary water systems, dam operating policies, hydropower and ecosystem service trade-offs, many-objective trade-off analysis

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 449229
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/449229
ISSN: 2296-665X
PURE UUID: 9e3afc34-9fc6-4cad-8ffc-9ef821dfc202
ORCID for Solomon Gebrechorkos: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7498-0695
ORCID for Justin Sheffield: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2400-0630

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 May 2021 16:31
Last modified: 30 Oct 2023 03:20

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Contributors

Author: Jose M. Gonzalez
Author: Evgenii S. Matrosov
Author: Emmanuel Obuobie
Author: Marloes Mul
Author: Laetitia Pettinotti
Author: Andrea Bottacin-Busolin
Author: James Dalton
Author: D. Mark Smith
Author: Julien J. Harou

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