The Wetland Book pp 1849-1854 | Cite as

Environmental Flows: The Savannah Process

  • Andrew T. Warner
Reference work entry


Because The Nature Conservancy’s approach to site-specific environmental flow assessment and implementation was first described for the Savannah River in Georgia, USA, it has acquired the nickname "the Savannah Process.” Like the DRIFT method and the Building Block Methodology (BBM), the Savannah Process addresses the linkages between diverse flow characteristics and ecosystem components. This holistic method relies on facilitated expert consensus to prescribe environmental flows. The process consists of five steps. Step 1 is a one-day orientation meeting to inform and engage interested scientists, water managers, government agencies, and other stakeholders and provide a forum to express their values and concerns for the river. Step 2 is the preparation of a literature review and summary report describing existing data and knowledge of the river-floodplain-estuary system, species, and their flow dependencies to describe the annual and inter-annual flow or inundation patterns needed to support ecosystem health. Step 3 is a facilitated expert workshop, typically about two days, with participants representing expertise in all riverine ecosystem components. During this step, scientists are tasked with developing a set of environmental flow components (EFCs), which can be discussed by workshop participants in breakout groups. The whole group then reconvenes for a final review and agreement upon a unified environmental flow prescription. Step 4 is the initial implementation of the flow prescription. Following the flow workshop, scientists continue a dialogue with water managers to identify opportunities for implementing portions of the recommendations. Step 5 consists of additional data collection and research as needed to refine the environmental flow prescription. To date, the Savannah Process has been applied in a range of contexts around the world, mostly to guide changes in existing reservoir operations.


Environmental flows Savannah Process Water management Water allocation Environmental water need The Nature Conservancy Environmental flow components 


  1. Higgins JV, Konrad CP, Warner AT, Hickey JT. A framework for monitoring, reporting and managing dam operations for environmental flows. Version 1.0. Sustainable Rivers Project measures working group. Arlington: The Nature Conservancy; 2011.Google Scholar
  2. King J, Brown C, Sabet H. A scenario-based holistic approach to environmental flow assessments for rivers. River Res Appl. 2003;19:619–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. King J, Louw D. Instream flow assessments for regulated rivers in South Africa using the Building Block Methodology. Aquat Ecosyst Health Manag. 1998;1:109–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Konrad C. Monitoring and evaluation of environmental flow prescriptions for five demonstration sites of the Sustainable Rivers Project. In: USGS Open-File Report 2010-1065. Reston: U.S. Geological Survey; 2010. p. 22.Google Scholar
  5. Richter BD, Warner AT, Meyer JL, Lutz K. A collaborative and adaptive process for developing environmental flow recommendations. River Res Appl. 2006;22:297–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Warner AT, Bach LB, Hickey JT. Restoring environmental flows through adaptive reservoir management: planning, science, and implementation through the Sustainable Rivers Project. Hydrol Sci J. 2014;59(3–4):1–16.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Nature ConservancyUniversity ParkPAUSA
  2. 2.CDM SmithState CollegePAUSA

Personalised recommendations