Articles | Volume 371
12 Jun 2015
 | 12 Jun 2015

Streamflow predictions in regulated river systems: hydrological non-stationarity versus anthropogenic water use

D. Dutta, S. Kim, J. Vaze, and J. Hughes

Abstract. Streamflow in a regulated river system is highly influenced by storage regulations and anthropogenic water use in addition to climate variability. Thus, changes in climate-streamflow relationships and dominant hydrological processes over time are difficult to quantify in a regulated system without partitioning influence of storage regulation and anthropogenic water uses. This requires a robust regulated river system model, which takes into consideration of both hydrological and man-made flow regulation processes, as well as anthropogenic water uses. In this study, a newly developed large-scale river system model (called "AWRA-R") was used to assess the influence of both anthropogenic and climate variability/change on streamflow non-stationarity in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB). MDB is one of the highly regulated basins in Australia with multiple large and small storages developed primarily for supplying water to irrigated agriculture. The modelling was undertaken for the period of 1950–2010, which includes rapid water resources development and both wet and dry climate. The AWRA-R model was calibrated for a reasonably long period and then, validated on an independent period. The calibrated parameters were used to simulate streamflow under current and pre-development conditions to analyse the streamflow variability and influence of climate variability and anthropogenic development on streamflow trend. This paper briefly introduces the model and the method used for assessing streamflow variability under natural and developed conditions and presents the results and findings.

Short summary
We used a newly developed river system model to analyse the influence of anthropogenic development and water use on streamflow and to partition this influence from climate variability/change impact on streamflow in a regulated river system. The results have demonstrated that the water storages and anthropogenic water use have significant influence on trends in streamflow.