Reservoir - Operation

Operation

Water falling as rain upstream of the reservoir together with any groundwater emerging as springs is stored in the reservoir. Any excess water can be spilled via a specifically designed spillway. Stored water may be piped by gravity for use as drinking water, to generate hydro-electricity or to maintain river flows to support downstream uses. Occasionally reservoirs can be managed to retain high rain-fall events to prevent or reduce downstream flooding. Some reservoirs support several uses and the operating rules may be complex.

Most modern reservoirs have a specially designed draw-off tower that can discharge water from the reservoir at different levels both to access water as the reservoir draws down but also to allow water of a specific quality to be discharged into the downstream river as compensation water.

The operators of many upland or in-river reservoirs have obligations to release water into the downstream river to maintain river quality, support fisheries, maintain downstream industrial and recreational uses or for a range of other requirements. Such releases are known as compensation water.

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