• Decades of sustainable dam planning efforts have focused on containing dam impacts in
    regime conditions, when the dam is fully filled and operational, overlooking potential disputes
    raised by the filling phase. Here, we argue that filling timing and operations can catalyze most
    of the conflicts associated with a dam’s lifetime, which can be mitigated by adaptive solutions
    that respond to medium-to-long term hydroclimatic fluctuations. Our retrospective analysis
    of the contested recent filling of Gibe III in the Omo-Turkana basin provides quantitative
    evidence of the benefits generated by adaptive filling strategies, attaining levels of hydropower
    production comparable with the historical ones while curtailing the negative impacts
    to downstream users. Our results can inform a more sustainable filling of the new megadam
    currently under construction downstream of Gibe III, and are generalizable to the almost 500
    planned dams worldwide in regions influenced by climate feedbacks, thus representing a
    significant scope to reduce the societal and environmental impacts of a large number of new
    hydropower reservoirs.

  • Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy



    Copyright: © The Author(s) 2021.

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