An analytical framework for flood water conservation considering forecast uncertainty and acceptable risk

Wei Ding, Chi Zhang, Yong Peng, Ruijie Zeng, Huicheng Zhou, Ximing Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This paper addresses how much flood water can be conserved for use after the flood season through the operation of reservoir by taking into account the residual flood control capacity (the difference between flood conveyance capacity and the expected inflow in a lead time). A two-stage model for dynamic control of the flood-limited water level (the maximum allowed water level during the flood season, DC-FLWL) is established considering forecast uncertainty and acceptable flood risk. It is found that DC-FLWL is applicable when the reservoir inflow ranges from small to medium levels of the historical records, while both forecast uncertainty and acceptable risk in the downstream affect the feasible space of DC-FLWL. As forecast uncertainty increases (under a given risk level) or as acceptable risk level decreases (under a given forecast uncertainty level), the minimum required safety margin for flood control increases, and the chance for DC-FLWL decreases. The derived hedging rules from the modeling framework illustrate either the dominant role of water conservation or flood control or the trade-off between the two objectives under different levels of forecast uncertainty and acceptable risk. These rules may provide useful guidelines for conserving water from flood, especially in the area with heavy water stress. The analysis is illustrated via a case study with a real-world reservoir in northeastern China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4702-4726
Number of pages25
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • acceptable risk
  • flood control
  • forecast uncertainty
  • reservoir operation
  • residual flood conveyance capacity
  • water conservation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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