Electric power generation often involves the use of water for power plant cooling and steam generation, which typically involves the release of cooling water to nearby rivers and lakes. The resulting thermal pollution may negatively impact the ecosystems of these water bodies. Water resource systems models enable the examination of the implications of alternative electric generation on regional water resources.
This letter documents the development, calibration, and validation of a climate-driven water resource systems model of the Apalachicola–Chattahoochee–Flint, the Alabama–Coosa–Tallapoosa, and the Tombigbee River basins in the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, in the southeastern U.S.
The model represents different water users, including power plants, agricultural water users, and municipal users. The model takes into account local population, per-capita use estimates, and changes in population growth. The water resources planning model was calibrated and validated against the observed, managed flows through the river systems of the three basins. Flow calibration was performed on land cover, water capacity, and hydraulic conductivity of soil horizons; river water temperature calibration was performed on channel width and slope properties.
Goodness-of-fit statistics indicate that under 1980–2010 levels of water use, the model robustly represents major features of monthly average streamflow and water temperatures. The application of this integrated electricity generation–water resources planning model can be used to explore alternative electric generation and water implications. The implementation of this model is explored in a companion paper in the same issue.
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