Reservoir system management under uncertainty
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Reservoir systems are subject to several uncertainties that are the result of imperfect knowledge about system behavior and inputs. A major source of uncertainty arises from the inability to predict future inflows. Fortunately, it is often possible to generate probabilistic forecasts of inflow volumes in the form of probability density functions or ensembles. These inflow forecasts can be coupled with stochastic management models to determine reservoir release policies and provide stakeholders with meaningful information of upcoming system responses such as reservoir levels, releases, flood damage risks, hydropower production, water supply withdrawals, water quality conditions, navigation opportunities, and environmental flows, among others. This information on anticipated system responses is also expressed in the form of forecasts that must reliably represent the actual system behavior when it eventually occurs. The first part of this study presents an assessment methodology that can be used to determine the consistency of ensemble forecasts through the use of relative frequency histograms and minimum spanning trees (MST). This methodology is then used to assess a management model's ability to produce reliable ensemble forecasts. It was found that neglecting to account for hydrologic state variables and improperly modeling the finite management horizon decrease ensemble consistency. Several extensions to the existing management model are also developed and evaluated. The second portion of this study involves the management of the uncertainties in reservoir systems. Traditional management models only find management policies that optimize the expected values of system benefits or costs, thereby not allowing operators and stakeholders to explicitly explore issues related to uncertainty and risk management. A technique that can be used to derive management policies that produce desired probabilistic distributions of reservoir system outputs reflecting stakeholder preferences is developed. This technique can be embedded in a user-interactive framework that can be employed to evaluate the trade-offs and build consensus in multi-objective and multi-stakeholder systems. The methods developed in this dissertation are illustrated in case studies of real reservoir systems, including a seven-reservoir, multi-objective system in California's Central Valley.