ASDSO Dam Safety Toolbox

Normal/Conservation Pool/Storage

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The normal pool or conservation pool also known as the lake premium water storage volume, refers to the desired water level or storage capacity maintained in the reservoir under normal operating conditions. It provides a predetermined water level that allows for efficient water management, including meeting domestic, agricultural, and industrial water demands. The normal pool is set to optimize the balance between water supply, flood control, environmental considerations, and hydropower generation. It serves as a reference point for reservoir operations and guides the release of water downstream to maintain downstream flows and ecological conditions.

The normal storage level provides a stable water supply for various sectors, including irrigation, municipal water supply, and industrial uses. By maintaining a consistent water level, it supports sustainable water resource planning and reduces the vulnerability of water-dependent activities to fluctuations in water availability. Secondly, the normal pool facilitates flood control by creating a storage buffer to accommodate excess inflows during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt. This helps regulate downstream flows and mitigate flood risks.

The reservoir's capacity, inflow patterns, hydrological conditions, downstream water requirements, and environmental factors must be considered when determining normal pool levels. Balancing the storage capacity with the anticipated water demand and the need for flood control ensures the reservoir's optimal utilization. Environmental considerations, such as maintaining adequate instream flows, preserving aquatic ecosystems, and protecting sensitive habitats, also influence the determination of the normal pool level.

The normal pool/storage level guides reservoir management and operational decisions. It helps in setting operational rules and strategies for water release, ensuring downstream flow requirements are met while maintaining a sufficient storage buffer. Reservoir operators monitor water levels and adjust the release rates based on inflows, water demands, and flood forecasts. The normal pool level provides a reference point for managing the reservoir's storage and release dynamics, allowing for efficient water supply, flood mitigation, and hydropower generation.

Normal storage levels may need periodic reassessment and adjustment to accommodate changing water availability patterns, climate variability, and evolving water management needs. Climate change impacts, such as altered precipitation patterns or prolonged droughts, can affect the water balance, and require adjustments in the normal pool/storage levels. Adaptive reservoir management strategies consider long-term projections, stakeholder engagement, and ongoing monitoring to ensure the normal pool/storage remains aligned with current and future water resource challenges.

Best Practices Resources

Hydraulic Design of Spillways (EM 1110-2-1603), USACE


Revision ID: 7782
Revision Date: 01/03/2024