Increase minimum flows

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Increase minimum flows

Category 01. Water flow quantity improvement

General description

Minimum flow (i.e. a remaining minimum water level; no drying-out) in a stream is required to sustain its hydrological and ecological functions and to conserve its ecological quality (European Environemnt Agency). This needs to be considered in the management of aquatic ecosystems, especially in semi-arid regions. The provision of minimum flow becomes even more important in terms of climate change. Minimum flow can be (artificially) maintained by management methods (e.g. at reservoirs), with restrictions (e.g. abstraction constraints during summers, especially during periods of low precipitation), with changes in national water rights, and with morphological measures.

The concept of minimum flows should ensure that the economic use of water can continue while enough water remains in the stream channel to maintain the ecosystem. At the beginning of the concept minimum flow was mainly required to ensure the dilution of pollutants and to keep rivers minimally flooded to protect individual species (most certainly fish). For further information please see the REFORM Wiki page on minimum flows (Category 03 Flow dynamics improvement)

The concept of eflows evolved from the concept of minimum flows. Besides water quantity, the timing (i.e. flow regime) is considered and restored to an extent required to sustain and maintain the components, functions, processes and resilience of aquatic ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people’, i.e eflow refers to the provision of water to sustain aquatic ecosystems after human needs have been satisfied. For further information about eflows please see the respective REFORM Wiki page on EFlows (Category 03 Flow dynamics improvement.