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Journal of Hydrology, 82 (1985) 77--91

Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam -- Printed in The Netherlands

[1]

77

REGIONALIZATION OF FLOW DURATION CHARACTERISTICS

MARIA MLMIKOU and STELLA KAEMAKI

Division of Water Resources, Hydraulic and Maritime Engineering, Department, Technical University of Athens, Athens (Greece)

Civil Engineering

(Received March 16, 1985; revised and accepted June 18, 1985)

ABSTRACT

Mimikou, M. and Kaemaki, S., 1985. Regionalization of flow duration characteristics. J. Hydrol., 82: 77--91.

The flow duration curve is regionalized by using morphoclimatic characteristics of the drainage basin. The monthly flow duration characteristics at eleven major flow measuring sites across the western and northwestern regions of Greece were first para- meterized. Using multiple regression techniques, the geographic variation of each para- meter of the best fitted flow duration model is explained in terms of the mean annual areal precipitation, the drainage area, the hypsometric fall and the length of the main river course from the divide of the basin to the site of interest. The regionalized regression equations are successfully used to synthesize flow duration curves at other locations within the hydrologically homogeneous regions of western and northwestern Greece. The method is useful in obtaining estimates of water availability for hydropower at ungaged sites (especially for small hydropower plants, for run-of-river plants), or for other water resources development (water supply, water quality projects), within the regions studied, where the main governmental interest for water resources development is focused.

INTRODUCTION

One of the main concerns of the governmental policy in developing countries is to ensure energy supplies at the lowest possible cost and the highest possible reliability. The international oil crisis of the last decade has seriously affected both cost and reliability of the imported fossil fuel in Greece, making thus the exploitation of domestic energy sources and especi- ally of hydropower sources very challenging. The country has embarked on a wide national program of hydropower development and generally of water resources development. The main governmental interest for water resources development is focused to the western and northwestern regions of Greece where abundant water resources are available and the major rivers of Greece are concentrated. A component of this development is devoted to small hydropower. Water supply and water quality control systems are also

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© 1985 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.

78

programmed to be built. Usually, the small projects and several large hydro- projects as well, are located at ungaged sites and either their scale does not justify or the inaccessibility of their location does not permit a pre-project data acquisition at the site. Thus, the hydrologic design of these projects must be based on information spatially transferred from other gaged sites. The majority of the potential water resources development sites of the area studied are remote from existing hydrometeorologic stations so that the transfer of hydrologic information, especially of runoff characteristics, by using regression analysis (rainfall--runoff analysis, etc.) has been proved untenable in most of the cases. The only method which seems to be appro- priate in such cases is to attempt the spatial transfer of information through regionalization (Mimikou, 1982, 1984). It is well known that the hydropower potential at a certain site depends on the water availability and on the hydraulic head. Thus, a hydrologic concern in the design is to estimate the flow availability at the site, which is readily expressed by the flow duration curve. Although the latter does not give the sequence of flows, that is provided by the complete hydrograph, it yields a quick indication of the need for a storage reservoir at a certain river site where a given flow is to be maintained and gives information needed for the estimation of the hydropower potential at the site. It is thus a usefull tool in preliminary hydroelectric energy studies. The curve gives hydrologic information needed, as well in water supply studies and in water quality studies. Basic scope of the paper is to develop a simple technique for estimating water availability at ungaged sites or generally at sites where data is scarce. The regionalization of monthly flow duration characteristics in western and northwestern Greece is presented. The technique is successfully applied in estimating synthetic flow duration curves at ungaged sites of the area studied, by using as input information morphoclimatic characteristics of the drainage basins. Conclusions are drawn for the accuracy and the usefulness of the technique, and a comparative reference to other related studies on the same subject (Singh, 1971; Quimpo et al., 1983) is undertaken.

DATA USED

Eleven representative hydrometric stations of the five major rivers (the Aliakmon, Acheloos, Arachtos, Aoos and Kalamas) in western and north- western Greece have been used. The monthly flow records for all stations, with which the flow duration curves have been calibrated, belong to the Public Power Corporation. Characteristics of the stations (name, location and the lengths in years of the records studied) are given in Table 1. All stations are equipped with permanent installations for measuring flows with current meters and with staff gage recorders and have accurate and reliable data. The general location of the rivers and of the measuring stations is

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ikos

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Fig. f. General location of the measuring stations.

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TABLE 1

Characteristics of the measuring stations

River

Station

Latitude

 

Aliakmon

Ilarion

40 °

06'

15"

Siatista

40 °

13'

30"

Grevena

40 °

03'

00"

Acheloos

Avlaki

39 °

10'

40"

Aracthos

Plaka

39 °

28 '

00"

Tsimovo

39 °

34'

50"

Gogos

39 °

32 '

15"

Aoos

Konitsa

40 °

01'

50"

Vovoussa

42°

55'

40"

Kalamas

Vrossina

39 °

38'

20"

Soulopoulo

39 °

43'

20 '~

Aoos

Piges

39 °

49'

30"

Kalamas

Kioteki

39 °

34'

00"

TABLE 2

Morphoclimatic characteristics

 

River

Station

Annual

Drainage

 

precipita-

area A

tion P

(km 2 )

(ram)

Aliakmon

Ilarion

815

5OO5

Siatista

811

2724

Grevena

1057

817

Acheloos

Avlaki

1987

1349

Aracthos

Plaka

1581

970

Tsimovo

1413

640

Gogos

1780

204

Aoos

Konitsa

122U

665

Vovoussa

1449

202

Kalamas

Vrossina

1484

1035.5

Soulopoulo

1421

661.4

Aoos

Piges

1450

86.3

Kalamas

Kioteki

1550

1481.4

Longitude

 

Number of

 

yrs of

record

21

°

48'

15"

20

21

°

29'

45"

20

21

°

29'

45"

20

21

°

22'

45"

27

21

°

01'

45"

28

20

°

59'

15"

28

21

°

04'

45"

28

20

°

45'

45"

17

21

°

04'

45"

15

20

°

30'

45"

8

20

°

36'

25"

9

21

°

03'

45"

7

20

°

20'

15"

15

 

Hypsometric

Length

fall H

L

(m)

(km)

700

133

500

81

400

42

1000

65

600

50

600

40

1000

18

800

71

400

30

300

38

200

22

80

15

350

60

81

shown in Fig. 1. In addition to the monthly flow data of the measuring stations, which have been used in the calibration of the flow duration curve, several morphoclimatic characteristics of the drainage basins at the sites

have been used as well in the regionalization of the parameters of the curve. These characteristics are the following: the mean annual areal precipitation

P (mm), the drainage area A (km ~-), the hypsometric fall H (m) and the

length L (km) of the main river course from the divide of the basin to the measuring station. The precipitation and area data are taken from the hydrological records of the Greek Public Power Corporation, whereas the hypsometric fall and the length of the rivers have been calculated from maps. The morphoclimatic characteristics of the 11 drainage basins are given in Table 2. In the last two rows of Tables 1 and 2 the corresponding character- istics of two additional drainage basins on the Kalamas and the Aoos rivers, are given. They have been used in verifying the applicability and accuracy of the regional technique presented for estimating synthetic flow duration

curves.

CALIBRATION OF THE FLOW DURATION CURVES

The flow duration curve is a plot of discharge Q versus the percent of time

D during the period of the record in which the particular discharge is equaled

or exceeded. It is a well known and widely used graph and details of the procedure for the development of the curve can be found in introductory hydrology books (Linsley and Franzini, 1972). Because of the numerical procedure followed, the time interval used in the derivation affects the shape

of the curve. In this study monthly flow values have been used for the deri-

vation of the duration curves. This is due to the needs of the design of the hydropower and other hydraulic installations of the area. Following the definition of the flow duration curve, it is apparent that the

analytical expression of the curve depends on the serial correlation structure

of the flow time series. For series with statistically insignificant serial correla-

tion, the flow duration characteristics could be modelled with a probability

distribution model (gaussian, log-normal, etc.), as it is common practice

when dealing with statistical data (Yevjevich, 1972). Nevertheless, in most of the cases the flow series are autocorrelated (Kashyap and Rao, 1976) and this is why the flow duration curve procedure differs from a probability distribution approach. The serial dependence of the monthly flow series at the 11 sites used in this study has been checked by using the autocorrelation analysis and the Portmanteau check for testing the significance of the first- order autocorrelation coefficient (Box and Jenkins, 1970). It was found that

all

series exhibit a statistically significant first-order autocorrelation structure

at

the 95% confidence level.

Various mathematical models for the flow duration curve have been used

in

the literature. Singh (1971} conducted a research on flow duration curves

82

in the midwestern United States and developed a model according to which the dimensionless discharge (discharge Q divided by the average discharge of the record) corresponding to a certain precent of time D is a simple power function of the drainage area, whereas the constant and the exponent of the relationship are regionally varying functions of D. This type of approach could not be applied to the data of this study, since the power regressions developed between dimensionless discharge and drainage area for several values of D were found to be very poor. Quimpo et al. (1983), have para- meterized daily flow duration curves in the Philippines by using an expo- nential and a power form model as follows:

Q

--

a exp

(-- bD)

(1)

Q

=

a

D

-b

(2)

where Q is the discharge (per unit area of the basin), D is the corresponding time of exceedance and a and b are positive constants. They found that the exponential model of eqn (1) fitted the daily data better compared to the power model of eqn. (2). In the present study, besides the exponential and power models given in eqns. (1) and (2) another three flow duration models have been used. These models are the following:

Q

--

a--blnD

 

(3)

Q

=

a

-

bD

+

cD 2

(4)

Q

=

a--bD+cD:--dD3

(5)

In all eqns. (1)--(5) and in order to avoid spurious regressions, discharge Q is

treated in its original units without reducing it per unit area of the basin. The parameters a, b, c and d are positive constants. It has to be mentioned that the flow duration models are presented in eqns. (1)--(5) in their final form

as far as the sign of their coefficients is concerned. The models initially

tested had positive signs in the coefficients a, b, c and d in all eqns. (1)--(5). Then, the fitted on the real data models came up with negative values for the coefficients b and d for all models and stations studied. In other words,

it appears that the general features of the studied duration curves suggest

that the sign of the coefficients of the odd powers of D (or of its logarithm)

in the fitted models must be negative. The monthly flow data at all 11

stations in Table 1 have been treated according to the standard procedure for a flow duration curve development suggested by the U.S. Geological Survey (1959). A set of paired values of discharge Q, in m 3 s-', and the corresponding percent of time D, that Q has been exceeded during the analyzed record, has been estimated for each station. The 4%, 8%, 12% (interval increasing 4% each time up to 100%) values have been then ex- tracted by interpolation to yield 25 pairs of (Q, D) values for each station. The models were fitted to each set of 25 pairs by using the least-squares method. The model with the lesser sum of squares of residuals was selected

200I

150

~00

ILARION

- Calculated

Real

value

curve

TION

 

50

.

o

0

O0

0

25

0 50

075

1O0

 

D-Percent

of tqme

O

is equaled

or exceeded

 

200

QREVENA

 
 

- Calculated

curve

• Real

~alue

 

150

cl

CALIBRATION

 

100

50

o1~

 

000

025

050

075

100

 

D- Percent

of tqme

O

is equa~ed

or exceeded

Fig.

stations.

2.

Flow

duration curves at the Ilarion,

 

20[

2

v

 

15(

100

o

o.0o

025

~.~ 200 I

cl

150

100

50

0

D-Percent

O0

025

D- Percent

SIATISTA

- Calculated

• Real

va~ue

83

curve

CALIBRATION

 

050

075

100

of trine

Q

~

equaled

or exceeded

 

A~LAN I

-Calculated

CUrve

Real

value

CALIBRATION

".°

 
 

050

075

100

of

brae

O

15 equaled

or exceeded

Siatista,

Grevena and Avlaki measuring

to be the best model to parameterize the flow duration characteristics at each station. It was found that the cubic model in eqn. (5) is the best for all stations. The difference between the previously mentioned best exponential

84

2O0

o

 

150

100

50

000

025

050

D~ Percent of t,me

2oo

o

~Z

v

 

15C

~3

100

PLA•A

-

Calculated

Real

value

curve

CALI BRAT I,qN

075

O ,s equaled

100

or exceeded

GOGOS

- Calculated

Real

value

curve

CALIBRATION

50

o

ooo

025

050

075

100

D- Percent of t~me Q ps equaled

or exceeded

Fig.

stations.

3.

Flow

duration

curves

at

the

Plaka,

TSInOUO

- Calculated

curve

 

2001

• Real

value

g

~

150

u

CALIBRATION

0

l

; ,ool

 
 

o.00

025

050

075

100

D-Percent

of time

O ,S equaled

or exceeded

20C,~ I

g L

~

150

KONITSA

- Calculated curve • Real value

CALIBRATION

100

o

0o0

025

050

075

100

D- Percent of t,me 0 is equaled or exceeded

Tsimovo,

Gogos

and

Konitsa

measuring

daily flow duration model (Quimpo et al., 1983) and the monthly one esti- mated herein cannot be safely justified because of the differences due to the incorporation into the former of the drainage area as an additional implicit

A

~

'~

200

15C

10C

5O

0.00

0.25

D-Percent

200

15C

100

of

0

time

50

O

5o!

VOVOUSSA

 

- Calculated

curve

20O

Real

value

 

15(

CALIBRATION

 
 

cl

 

100

50

VROSSINA

- Calculated

• Real

value

curve

CALIBRATION

0.75

1.00

15 equaled or

exceeded

50ULOPOLILO

-Calculated

• Real

value

curve

CALIBRATION

0.00

0.25

050

075

100

D-Percent

of

t~me

Q

15 equaled or exceeded

85

0.00

0.25

0 50

0.75

IO0

D-Percent of t~me Q m5 equaled or exceeded

Fig.

stations.

4.

Flow

duration curves at the

Vovoussa,

Vrossina and Soulopoulo

measuring

term, to the different time scales of the analyses and to the different cli- matic regimes. The calibrated flow duration curves for all stations are shown in Figs. 2--4.

86

THE REGIONAL MODEL

As has been previously mentioned, the development of a regionalization technique for transferring hydrologic information -- in this case the flow duration characteristics -- from one flow-measuring site to another remote ungaged site of the area studied, has been found to be necessary, since other methods, like rainfall--runoff analysis, have been proved unreliable. This is due to the fact that the rainfall--runoff response at a certain site is an ex- tremely space--time dependent process, and its transfer reliability to other remote sites is seriously affected by the distances between the sites. The hydrologic regionalization is done either by plotting contours of equal values of some numerical measure of the hydrologic characteristic whose

transfer from site to site is of interest (Quimpo et al., 1983), or by explain- ing analytically the spatial variation of some parameters of the hydrologic characteristic, which is previously parameterized at various measuring sites. Because of the anomalous mountainous morphology and the relative sparse- ness of the available key stations of the western and northwestern regions

of Greece, the latter regionalization approach has been followed.

The spatial variation of the four parameters a, b, c and d of the cubic model in eqn. (5) from station to station has been attempted to be explained through the regression analysis and by using as input-independent variables one climatic (P) and three morphological characteristics of the drainage basins (A, H, L) which have been already defined and are given in Table 2.

Four regression equations have been tested in order to model the variability

of each of the four parameters. These are the following:

V=

b0

+ blP

+ b2A

+ b3L

+ b4H

(6)

V

~

bo Pb' (A/L)b2H b3

(7)

V

=

bo Pb'A b2(H/L)%

(8)

V

=

boPb'Ab:Hb~Lb4

 

(9)

where V is the dependent variable representing the parameters a, b, c, d and b0, bl, b2, b3, b4 are constants. The multiple regression analysis was per- formed aceording to standard statistical texts (Haan, 1977; Middlebrooks,

1979). The model in eqn. (9) has been proved to be the one with the lesser sum of squares of residuals for all parameters. Therefore, it has been selected to be the best regional model to explain the spatial variation of the para- meters of the flow durations curve. The regional models for all parameters,

and their correlation

fitted on the parameter values as given in Table 3, coefficients r are the following:

a 0.011pO'S26A°-6OSHO'OOTLOaS3

=

=

r

=

0, 87

(10)

r

=

0, 87

(11)

r

=

0, 84

(12)

b 0.053 P°'S11A°'684H-°'lSlL °'27s

c = 0.010 P°'7°SA°'952H-°'31SL°'°73

87

TABLE 3

Parameters and correlation coefficients of the regression equations

Stations

Parameters and r-values

 

a

b

c

d

r

Ilarion

169.286

421.259

362.827

106.842

0.999

Siatista

81.398

214.954

201.046

65.472

0.999

Grevena

59.182

136.447

97.779

19.554

0.999

Avlaki

143.452

1"t1.288

200.344

86.604

0.996

Plaka

110.061

282.~45

310.443

134.794

0.994

Tsimovo

70.572

209.574

243.804

105.883

0.994

Gogos

26.370

47.957

33.007

10.472

0.999

Konitsa

72.432

161.581

126.904

35.255

0.993

Vovoussa

29.087

62.830

39.148

4.788

0.998

Vrossina

107.631

313.080

346.657

133.380

0.999

Soulopoulo

63.675

171.288

200.344

86.604

0.999

d

In order to test the significance of the contribution of each independent variable in explaining the variation in the dependent variable in eqns. (10)-- (13), a F-test was used (Middlebrooks, 1979) for checking the equivalent hypothesis that the regression coefficient of each independent variable is significantly different from zero. The test statistic F is given by the ratio of the sum of squares explained by the regression -- more specifically the incremental sum of squares due to each tested independent variable -- to the residual sum of squares, multiplied by (n --p); n is the number of obser- vations (equal here to 11) and p is the number of independent variables, increased by one in order to account for the constant of the regression equation. The results are given in Table 4. In this table one can see the con- fidence levels at which the above mentioned statistical hypothesis is accepted for each specific independent variable, shown in the first column of the table, in explaining the variation of each of the parameters shown in the upper row of the table. The contributions provided by the drainage area in the first place and secondly by the annual precipitation appear to be the most significant for all parameters. This is expected, since both variables play significant role in the runoff process and its time distribution. A possible explanation for the relatively low contribution provided by the climatic factor is the difference in the time scales between the annual precipitation and the modelled monthly runoff process. It is noteworthy to mention that the comparative significance of the contributions provided by the length and hypsometric fall of the river differs from parameter to parameter. The variation in the parameters a and d is better explained by the river length, whereas the hypsometric fall explains better the variation in the parameters

b and c. This reversal in the roles of the two variables may be due to the

=

4.215 × lO-6pl'lSTAI'637H-°'°53L -0"687

r

--

0,

83

(13)

88

TABLE 4 F-test -- confidence levels

Independent variables

Conf. levels (%) for the parameters

 

a

b

c

d

A

92.6

92.0

93.7

96.4

P

65.5

57.7

59.6

66.1

H

1.8

36.7

46.7

6.0

L

36.1

34.3

7.1

44.0

TABLE 5 Coefficients of determination r2

Independent variables in the regression

r2-values for the parameters

 

a

d

b

c

H

0.009

0.012

L, H

0.524

0.254

P, L, H

0.567

0.311

A, P, L, H

0.757

0.687

L

0.506

0.337

H, L

0.531

0.439

P, H, L

0.563

0.478

A, P, H, L

0.748

0.712

differences between the parameters themselves; the parameters b and c represent the influence of the main time components in eqn. (5), and they should be more sensitive in morphological characteristics, like the hypso- metric fall, which primarily affect the time distribution of flow. The increase of the prediction accuracy with the progressive addition of independent variables, which are added arrayed in increasing order of significance for each specific parameter, as it is expressed by the corresponding increase of the coefficient of determination r 2 of the regression, is shown in Table 5. Even though the contribution provided in some cases by some of the variables is considerably insignificant as shown in Tables 4 and 5, for example the hypsometric fall could be deleted from eqns. (10) and (13) without signifi- cant sacrifice of accuracy, the regional equations have been developed by using all the variables, as given in eqns. (10)--(13), in order to keep uniform- ity and completeness in the expression. It is apparent that the overall prediction efficiency of the regional method is strongly affected by the accuracy of prediction of the parameters of the flow duration model. Thus, the goodness of fit of the latter, previously tested during the calibration, is not alone reliably indicative of the accuracy

89

of prediction. In order to test further the selection of the cubic model of eqn. (5) as the best among the other competing ones in eqns. (1)--(4), the predictability of the parameters of the rest models have been checked as well by repeating the regionalization procedure previously described. In all cases, the r2-values of the developed regional regression equations for each para- meter were less than the corresponding r2-values for the cubic model para- meters as given in Table 5.

APPLICATION -- VERIFICATION

The regional models in eqns. (10)--(13) can be used to estimate the flow duration characteristics a, b, c and d and therefore, to construct a synthetic flow duration curve of the cubic form of eqn. (5) for any other remote ungaged site for hydropower or any other water resources development site within the hydrologically homogeneous region of western and northwestern Greece. The flow duration curve doesn't give information on the sequence of flows, a fact that limits its usefulness in the design. Nevertheless, it readily expresses the water availability and gives information needed for the esti- mation of the hydropower potential (the latter being proportional to the product of the discharge and the hydraulic head) at a certain site. It is thus useful in preliminary hydro-electric energy studies, especially for small hydro- power plants, where due to the small scale of the design, the requirements of the study can be met by the type of flow information provided by the duration curve, until sufficient data become available to warrant more sophisticated techniques of analysis. It is also useful in assessing energy production at run- of-river plants. It has also application in water supply and water quality studies, where the duration of flows is basic hydrologic information for the design. For example, the duration of low flows is strongly affecting the solution of various pollution problems. In order to verify the developed regional technique and to estimate the accuracy for constructing synthetic flow duration curves at other locations of the area, two other sites, which have not been used in the calibration procedure, the Piges and the Kioteki stations on the Aoos and the Kalamas rivers respectively, have been used. The characteristics of the stations and the morphoclimatic characteristics of their drainage basins are given in Tables 1 and 2. The latter characteristics have been used in eqns. (10)--(13) and the parameters a, b, c and d of the synthetic flow duration curves at both sites have been estimated. Then eqn. (5) has been used to construct the curves as shown in Fig. 5. Each of the two synthetic curves (dotted line) is given along with the corresponding real curve (solid line) which is eye-fitted and connects the points obtained from 25 pairs of discharge Q versus the time of exceedance D. The (Q, D) pairs have been estimated from the available monthly records at both sites by following the procedure previously descri- bed. The fitting of the synthetic curves to the real ones appears to be very good, especially at the Piges site.

90

PIGES AOOU K IOTE~,I 20O 20C --0-Calculated --o- Calculated +Real Real m IE E g
PIGES AOOU
K IOTE~,I
20O
20C
--0-Calculated
--o-
Calculated
+Real
Real
m
IE
E
g
g
t_
L
~
15£
15C
UERIF]CATION
UERIF
ICATIOrb
c3
cl
q,,
10C
10C
50
50
0
O0
0
25
0
50
0 75
1O0
0.00
025
050
075
100
D-Percent
of
t,rne
Q
E$ equaled
or exceeded
D- Percent
of
t,me
O
~$ equaled
or exceeded
Fig. 5. Synthetic flow duration curves at the Piges and Kioteki measuring stations.

A measure of accuracy has been defined to be the mean square error e as

follows:

i=1

Qi

(%)

(14)

where Qi is the real discharge, ~)i is the estimated one at the time D = i

of the abscissa and i ranges from 1 to N. The discharge values finally used in eqn. (14) are the ones corresponding to the N = 25 pairs previously

5. The estimated accuracy is satisfactory and

equal to: e = 3% for the Piges station and e = 10% for the Kioteki station.

selected and plotted in Fig.

CONCLUSIONS

The conclusions drawn from this research are the following:

(1) The best monthly flow duration model, selected among other com- peting ones for all stations studied, is a cubic model, i.e. the discharge Q is expressed in terms of a third-order polynomial of the percent of time D during the period analyzed in which the particular discharge is equaled or exceeded; the odd powers of D in the polynomial have negative coefficients. (2) The mean annual areal precipitation, the drainage area, the hypso- metric fall and the length of the main river course from the divide of a drainage basin to a certain site explain significantly the geographic variation of the flow duration characteristics at the site.

91

(3) The developed regional technique can be easily and successfully used in estimating synthetic flow duration curves at ungaged sites within the hydrologically homogeneous region of the study in western and north- western Greece. It is usefull in estimating water availability for hydropower at ungaged sites (especially for small hydropower plants, for run-of-river plants), or for other water resources development (water supply, water quality projects).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors wish to thank the Public Power Corporation of Greece for providing the data used in the study.

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