There are different methods in hydrological approach for estimating the environmental flow and a comparative assessment is necessary. The low flow indexes (7Q2 and 7Q10), Smakhtin, Tennent and flow duration curve were used to estimate the environmental flow of Zohreh River in the southwest of Iran. The Smakhtin, 7Q2, 7Q10 and Tennant methods resulted in the estimation of constant values of 27.2, 12.7, 5.9 and (8 and 24) cms, so that, on average 52.8, 26.9 and 12.3, 36.7 percent of the monthly flow is allocated to the environmental flow. The monthly environmental flow pattern for these methods does not fit well with the monthly flow pattern, and thus it can be concluded that the Smakhtin, 7Q2, 7Q10 and Tennant methods cannot be used in the initial form. The application of the flow duration curve leads to an environmental flow assessment in the range of 6.8–38 cms in different months, whose time pattern completely matched with the monthly flow pattern. In this method, on average, 30.8% (range 18–48%) of the monthly flow allocated to the environmental flow, which is reasonable and acceptable amounts. Investigating the results of this study shows that the time pattern of the results should be analyzed in comparison with the observational flow pattern to estimate the environmental flow with a hydrological approach. The results also suggest that the methods that provide a constant amount of environmental flow in different months of the year should be interpreted cautiously along with other methods.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
Acreman M, Dunbar M, Hannaford J, Mountford O, Wood P, Holmes N, King J (2008) Developing environmental standards for abstractions from UK rivers to implement the EU Water Framework Directive/Développement de standards environnementaux sur les prélèvements d’eau en rivière au Royaume Uni pour la mise en œuvre de la directive cadre sur l’eau de l’Union Européenne. Hydrol Sci J 53(6):1105–1120
Ansarifar MM, Salarijazi M, Ghorbani K, Kaboli AR (2019) Simulation of groundwater level in a coastal aquifer. Marine Georesource Geotechnol 38(3):257–265
Ates H, Dogan S, Berktay A (2016) The effect of river type hydroelectric power plants on aquatic ecosystems: the case study of Göksu River-Eastern Mediterranean. Eur J Eng Nat Sci 1(1):39
Bahrami E, Mohammadrezapour O, Salarijazi M, Jou PH (2019) Effect of base flow and rainfall excess separation on runoff hydrograph estimation using gamma model (case study: Jong catchment). KSCE J Civ Eng 23(3):1420–1426
Balsane VK, Bansod RD (2016) Evaluation of hydrological criteria of environmental flow. Int J Trop Agric 34(6):1821–1827
Bardina M, Honey-Rosés J, Munné A (2016) Implementation strategies and a cost/benefit comparison for compliance with an environmental flow regime in a Mediterranean river affected by hydropower. Water Policy 18(1):197–216
Brooks BW, Riley TM, Taylor RD (2006) Water quality of effluent-dominated ecosystems: ecotoxicological, hydrological, and management considerations. Hydrobiologia 556(1):365–379
Caissie J, Caissie D, El-Jabi N (2015) Hydrologically based environmental flow methods applied to rivers in the Maritime Provinces (Canada). River Res Appl 31(6):651–662
Chen W, Olden JD (2017) Designing flows to resolve human and environmental water needs in a dam-regulated river. Nat Commun 8(1):2158
Davies PM, Naiman RJ, Warfe DM, Pettit NE, Arthington AH, Bunn SE (2014) Flow–ecology relationships: closing the loop on effective environmental flows. Mar Freshw Res 65(2):133–141
Elhatip H, Hinis MA (2015) Statistical approaches for estimating the environmental flows in a river basin: case study from the Euphrates River catchment, Eastern Anatolian part of Turkey. Environ Earth Sci 73(8):4633–4646
Ghanbarpour MR, Zolfaghari S, Geiss C, Darvari Z (2013) Investigation of river flow alterations using environmental flow assessment and hydrologic indices: Tajan River Watershed Iran. Int J River Basin Manag 11(3):311–321
Ghorbani K, Salarijazi M, Abdolhosseini M, Eslamian S, Ahmadianfar I (2019) Evaluation of Clark IUH in rainfall-runoff modelling (case study: Amameh Basin). Int J Hydrol Sci Technol 9(2):137–153
Jensen P, Lee KL, Su YC, Glick R, Magin D (2002) Wet weather and the application of appropriate criteria for contact recreation. Proc Water Environ Fed 2002(8):1210–1222
Jha R, Sharma KD, Singh VP (2008) Critical appraisal of methods for the assessment of environmental flows and their application in two river systems of India. KSCE J Civ Eng 12(3):213–219
King JM, Tharme RE, Brown CA (1999) Definition and implementation of instream flows Thematic Report for the World Commission on Dams. Southern Waters Ecological Research and Consulting, Cape Town, SA, p 63
Mann, J. L. (2006). Instream flow methodologies: an evaluation of the Tennant method for higher gradient streams in the national forest system lands in the western US Master of Science thesis. Colorado State University, Fort Collins
McClain ME, Anderson EP (2015) The gap between best practice and actual practice in the allocation of environmental flows in integrated water resources management. In: Setegn S, Donoso M (eds) Sustainability of integrated water resources management. Springer, Cham, pp 103–120. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-12194-9_7
Moazed H, Salarijazi M, Moradzadeh M, Soleymani S (2012) Changes in rainfall characteristics in Southwestern Iran. Afr J Agric Res 7(18):2835–2843
Noori M, Zarghami M, Sharifi MB, Heydari M (2013) Utilization of LARS-WG model for modelling of meteorological parameters in Golestan Province of Iran. J River Eng 1. https://europub.co.uk/articles/32947
Othman F, Heydari M, Sadeghian MS, Rashidi M, Shahiri Parsa M (2014) The necessity of systematic and integrated approach in water resources problems and evaluation methods, a review. Adv Environ Biol 8(19):307–315
Pastor AV, Ludwig F, Biemans H, Hoff H, Kabat P (2014) Accounting for environmental flow requirements in global water assessments. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 18(12):5041–5059
Piniewski M, Laizé CL, Acreman MC, Okruszko T, Schneider C (2014) Effect of climate change on environmental flow indicators in the Narew Basin. Poland J Environ Qual 43(1):155–167
Poff NL (2018) Beyond the natural flow regime? Broadening the hydro-ecological foundation to meet environmental flows challenges in a non-stationary world. Freshw Biol 63(8):1011–1021. https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13038
Poff LeRoy N, David Allan J, Mark Bain B, Karr JR, Prestegaard KL, Richter BD, Sparks RE, Stromberg JC (1997) The natural flow regime. BioScience 47(11):769–784
Pyrce, R. (2004). Hydrological low flow indices and their uses. Watershed Science Centre,(WSC)Report, (04–2004).
Richter BD, Baumgartner JV, Powell J, Braun DP (1996) A method for assessing hydrological alteration within ecosystems. Conserv Biol 10:1163–1174
Richter BD, Davis MM, Apse C, Konrad C (2012) A presumptive standard for environmental flow protection. River Res Appl 28(8):1312–1321
Rijal NH, Alfredsen K (2015) Environmental flows in Nepal-an evaluation of current practices and an analysis of the upper Trishuli-I hydroelectric project. Hydro Nepal: J Water Energy Environ 17:8–17
Salarijazi M, Ghorbani K (2019) Improvement of the simple regression model for river’ EC estimation. Arab J Geosci 12(7):235
Shenton W, Hart BT, Chan T (2011) Bayesian network models for environmental flow decision-making: 1. Latrobe River Australia. River Res Appl 27(3):283–296
Smakhtin VU (2001) Low flow hydrology: a review. J Hydrol 240(3):147–186
Smakhtin VY (2006) An assessment of environmental flow requirements of Indian river basins, vol 107. IWMI. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02508060408691785
Smakhtin V, Revenga C, Doll P (2004) A pilot global assessment of environmental water requirements and scarcity. Water Int 29(3):307–317
Tennant DL (1976) Instream flow regimens for fish, wildlife, recreation and related environmental resources. Fisheries 1:6–10
Tharme RE (2003) A global perspective on environmental flow assessment: emerging trends in the development and application of environmental flow methodologies for rivers. River Res Appl 19(5–6):397–441
Trudel M, Doucet-Généreux PL, Leconte R (2017) Assessing river low-flow uncertainties related to hydrological model calibration and structure under climate change conditions. Climate 5(1):19
Verma RK, Murthy S, Tiwary RK (2015) Assessment of environmental flows for various sub-watersheds of Damodar river basin using different hydrological methods. J Waste Resour 5(182):2
Verma RK, Murthy S, Verma S, Mishra SK (2017) Design flow duration curves for environmental flows estimation in Damodar River Basin. India Appl Water Sci 7(3):1283–1293
Wałęga A, Młyński D, Kokoszka R, Miernik W (2015) Possibilities of applying hydrological methods for determining environmental flows in select catchments of the upper Dunajec basin. Methodology (BBM) 29:32
Watt SP (2007) A methodology for environmental protection of ontario watercourses with respect to the permit to take water program, Master Thesis. Queen’s University, Canada, p 124
Wurbs RA (2017) Incorporation of environmental flows in water allocation in Texas. Water Int 42(1):18–33
Zhang Z (2017) The index gage method to develop a flow duration curve from short-term streamflow records. J Hydrol 553:119–129
Zhuo L, Mekonnen MM, Hoekstra AY, Wada Y (2016) Inter-and intra-annual variation of water footprint of crops and blue water scarcity in the Yellow River basin (1961–2009). Adv Water Resour 87:29–41
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Communicated by Michael Nones, Ph.D. (CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF)/Mohammad Valipour (ASSOCIATE EDITOR).
About this article
Cite this article
Karimi, S., Salarijazi, M., Ghorbani, K. et al. Comparative assessment of environmental flow using hydrological methods of low flow indexes, Smakhtin, Tennant and flow duration curve. Acta Geophys. 69, 285–293 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11600-021-00539-z
- Zohreh river
- Hydrological methods
- Environmental flows
- Flow duration curves
- Low flow indexes