May the Odds Be in Your Favor: Why Many Attempts to Reoperate Dams for the Environment Stall

Afua Owusu*, Marloes Mul, Pieter Van Der Zaag, Jill Slinger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


The provision of flows for the environment, e-flows, is a means to restore the benefits of naturally flowing rivers. Despite the development of numerous methodologies to determine e-flows and optimize dam releases, actual implementation is relatively limited. Examples of successful e-flows implementation through dam reoperation exist in scientific literature; however, there is a missing narrative on cases where dam reoperation has been attempted but not successfully implemented. This study explores this impasse narrative and presents four hypotheses for further research on this subject: (1) Scientists are important stakeholders in the process of dam reoperation, but should play a supportive role rather than drive the process; (2) In undertaking scientific studies for determination of e-flows, a consensus on the priorities, knowledge gap, and solutions must be reached together with local stakeholders; (3) Local-level legislation and policy on e-flows provide the enabling environment for dam reoperation for e-flows; and (4) Genuine, carefully designed consultations of, and negotiations between, stakeholders can overcome hurdles encountered in the process of dam reoperation for e-flows implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04022009
JournalJournal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • E-flow implementation hurdles
  • Environmental flows
  • Flow restoration
  • Reservoir operation


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