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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Connecticut River Flow Restoration Study- Study Report and Overview


Katie Kennedy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
The Nature Conservancy
Northampton, Ma


The purpose of the Connecticut River Flow Restoration Study was to evaluate the feasibility of operational changes at large dams throughout the watershed to benefit ecological health and function while maintaining the important services provided by these dams. Initially, the Study aimed to evaluate the coordinated operation of multiple dams to meet watershed restoration goals. Because watersheds have an inter-connected network structure, and river flows above tidal influence are uni-directional, the coordinated management of many dams to meet an objective generally means meeting that objective at a point downstream from all of the dams. However, in the Connecticut River watershed, the downstream-most point, although certainly hydrologically altered, is not the most-impacted point in the watershed. Rather, hydrologic impacts are localized and distributed throughout the Connecticut River watershed, and are most severe on tributaries. This pattern is related in part to reservoir storage capacity and the distribution of dams in the watershed, and may have contributed to the results of the initial alternative scenario, which suggested undesirable trade-offs for flood risk and hydrologic alteration under coordinated operations of multiple facilities across the watershed.