4th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Kelsie Timpe
Session Name Poster Session: Impact of changing drivers on water resources
Poster Number 23
Author(s) Kelsie Timpe,  School of Natural Resources and the Environment (Presenting Author)
  David Kaplan,  Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment
  Simone Athayde, Tropical Conservation and Development Program
  Assessing the effects of hydroelectric dam design on watershed hydrology and ecosystem services in the Amazon
  The Amazon basin is an extremely valuable conglomeration of ecological and social systems, harboring complex feedback systems and providing innumerable ecosystem services. However, the Brazilian government plans the rapid development of a vast network of hydroelectric dams and supporting infrastructure in the Amazon over the following decades. This will not only directly impact river hydrology and biology, but will also generate land-use changes, such as deforestation, that will impact biodiversity and climate on regional scales. These changes will likely result in the loss of myriad ecosystem services. To understand the tradeoffs between the loss of ecosystem services and the generation of power by hydroelectric dams, a systems-level analysis of the socio-ecological system is required. This project will evaluate these tradeoffs by analyzing the ecological effects of altering the hydrologic function of Amazonian rivers via hydrologic modeling techniques. Three scenarios will be modeled and compared in the Tocantins and Madeira river watersheds: construction of a conventional dam; construction of a run-of-the-river dam; and no dam. This analysis will help quantify the direct and indirect impacts of hydroelectric dams on ecosystem services, including those amplified by feedback loops between land-cover change and hydrologic manipulation. The goal of this study is to paint a clearer picture of the practicality of damming Amazonian rivers, and provide guidance on which rivers and types of dams provide the optimum tradeoff between ecosystem services and power generation. The project is part of the Amazon Dams Program, an initiative of the Tropical Conservation and Development Program in the Center for Latin American Studies at UF, which is working to structure the inter- and trans-disciplinary network needed to foster the systems-level understanding vital for implementing scientifically informed management and development policies.