Worldwide populations of freshwater eels have declined with one of the contributing causes related to mortality during passage through hydropower turbines. An inherent trade-off underlies turbine management where the competing demand for more hydropower comes at the expense of eel survival. A win–win solution exists when an option performs better on all competing demands compared to other options. A predictive model for eel migration based on a recent telemetry study was used to develop decision rules for turbine management in the Shenandoah River system. The performance of alternative decision rules was compared to the status quo policy to search for win–win solutions. Decision rules were defined by the probability of eel movement and were evaluated by the probabilities of false positive and false negative errors. The exact value of the cut-off probability used in the decision rule will need to be determined through negotiation between stakeholders, but a range of cut-off probabilities resulted in a win–win situation with both reduced eel mortality and increased turbine operation relative to the current shutdown strategy. Monitoring the implementation is needed to evaluate and update the predictive model and to refine the decision rule. Although the decision is framed for the Shenandoah River system, the analytical approach could be used to develop decision rules for turbine shutdown policy in other areas.
Smith, D. R., Fackler, P. L., Eyler, S. M., Villegas Ortiz, L., & Welsh, S. A. (2017). Optimization of decision rules for hydroelectric operation to reduce both eel mortality and unnecessary turbine shutdown: A search for a win–win solution. River Research and Applications, 33(8), 1279–1285. https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.3182