Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Risk-Informed Decision Making

Once more busy with an interesting project at BC Hydro that might be of interest to you too. Decision making for planning and management of water resources can be an utterly challenging task where several stakeholders with a diverse range of interests and consequently several objectives are part of the process. As an example, operating a hydro-power dam is a task normally done with consideration of several competing objectives such as maximizing power generation and minimizing adverse environmental impacts. They are competing where a long term operational plan demands storing water in the reservoir for later power generation while there is a minimum required flow to be released for a healthy river environment known as environmental flow. Case by case, there might be several other objectives and concerns such as recreational opportunities, water supply for residential and/or irrigational use, navigation etc. This process becomes much more challenging where the reservoir is also being used for controlling floods. The difficult task of reservoir operation planning for minimizing flood damage during flooding periods accompanied by other operational objectives and exacerbated by the lack of time for decision making won't probably be successful unless there is a comprehensive Risk-Informed Decision Making (RIDM) framework. The framework should utilize advanced inflow forecast and scenario generation methods and be able to inform decision makers of the risks involved with each possible decision.

For a better understanding of an RIDM framework, you might be interested in looking at NASA's RIDM handbook which is available for download at NASA's website.