Study on Minimum on Environmental Flow for Hydro Power Projects in Bhutan
The Updated Power System Master Plan 2003-2022 shortlists 76 hydropower projects from which 70 are run of the river scheme and 6 reservoir schemes. Development of hydropower requires a vast amount of natural resources and causes numerous impacts on the environment, one of which is the reduced flow of water. Therefore, minimum environmental flow required for aquatic lives downstream is one of the major environmental concerns of hydropower projects. As of now Bhutan does not have any specific guidelines for assessment of the minimum environmental flow.
Through this project institutional capacity for assessment and monitoring of environmental flow will be developed to ensure minimising or avoiding negative impact on environment from activities in the context of hydropower development.
The main results will be that
- a guideline for assessment and determination of environmental flow has been developed;
- the environmental flow has been assessed in at least 4 river basins;
- 26 officials from universities, relevant Ministries and the National Environment Commission have been trained on assessment and determination of e-flow; 13 of them have also been trained at site for field sampling and data collection;
- 1 official from the National Environment Commission has successfully completed master studies in the field of environmental assessment.
The main beneficiaries are National Environment Commission, the Department of Hydromet Services – as the main agency responsible for collection and management of hydrological information, Department of Livestock – responsible for fish species and other aquatic lives in the rivers of Bhutan and the three Bhutanese Colleges to incorporate the key aspects of e-flow/study of fish species and other aquatic lives in their curriculum.
The contribution is in line with Austria’s programmes under the Austria – Bhutan Country Strategy 2014-2018 and projected under the 11th Five Year Plan of the Royal Government of Bhutan.