This paper presents a quantitative assessment framework for determining the instream flow under multiobjective water allocation criteria. The Range of Variability Approach (RVA) is employed to evaluate the hydrologic alterations caused by flow diversions, and the resulting degrees of alteration for the 32 Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration (IHAs) are integrated as an overall degree of hydrologic alteration. By including this index in the objective function, it is possible to optimize the water allocation scheme using compromise programming to minimize the hydrologic alteration and water supply shortages. The proposed methodology is applied to a case study of the Kaoping diversion weir in Taiwan. The results indicate that the current release of 9.5 m3/s as a minimum instream flow does not effectively mitigate the highly altered hydrologic regime. Increasing the instream flow would reduce the overall degree of hydrologic alteration; however, this is achieved at the cost of increasing the water supply shortages. The effects on the optimal instream flow of the weighting factors assigned to water supplies and natural flow variations are also investigated. With equal weighting assigned to the multiple objectives, the optimal instream flow of 26 m3/s leads to a less severely altered hydrologic regime, especially for those low-flow characteristics, thereby providing a better protection of the riverine environment.
Journal of the American Water Resources Association 42(5), pp.1179-1191