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Estimating minimum environmental flow requirements for well-mixed estuaries in Spain

Abstract: Following the principles of the European Water Framework Directive, the current Spanish water management legislation requires the definition of the environmental flow regimes for all water bodies, including estuaries. The scientific community has tried to answer the question of how much freshwater an estuary needs since the mid-1970s, resulting in the development of several methodologies and approaches in different parts of the world. However the ability to reproduce most of these approaches is difficult due to the scarcity of required data and also to the differences between the studied estuaries. In this paper, we present a methodology to calculate environmental flow regimes in well-mixed estuaries based on the numerical modelling of salinity and which takes into account the seasonal climatic and hydrologic pattern of the catchment. The approach follows three sequential steps: 1) Definition of reference conditions based on the unaltered salinity patterns and zoning of the estuary, 2) definition of salinity thresholds and 3) calculation of the minimum flows required to satisfy these thresholds. The application of the methodology to five estuaries on the northern coast of Spain has highlighted the importance of considering the hydrological variability and the division of the estuary into homogeneous zones. Moreover, the studies carried out demonstrate the ineffectiveness of river specific methodologies when used to define environmental flow regimes in several estuaries and periods, and the need to apply specific methodologies. The methodology is based on the principles defined by other already tested approaches, but its greatest advantage lies in the ability to be applied to large scales, when physical and biological data is scarce.

 Autoría: Peñas F.J., Juanes J.A., Galván C., Medina R., Castanedo S., Álvarez C., Bárcena J.F.,

 Fuente: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science Volume 134, 1 December 2013, Pages 138-149

 Editorial: Elsevier

 Fecha de publicación: 01/12/2013

 Nº de páginas: 12

 Tipo de publicación: Artículo de Revista

 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecss.2013.05.020

 ISSN: 0272-7714,1096-0015

 Proyecto español: CGL2009-10620

 Url de la publicación: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2013.05.020