The construction and operation of water storage and hydropower projects affects the structure of water ecosystems of downstream rivers, and the establishment of ecological flow in rivers below the water storage and hydropower projects has significant impacts on maintaining the stability of river ecosystems. A database was established based on 2000–2017 environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports on water storage and hydropower projects in China and ecological flow (e-flow) methods, and the three widely used e-flow methods for water storage and hydropower projects in China were identified on the database. Furthermore, an ecological flow satisfaction degree model was used to evaluate the methods using long series of historical hydrological data from the hydrological stations in the Yellow River basin, the Yangtze River basin, and the Liao River basin. The results showed that hydrological methods are the type most often used for water storage and hydropower projects in China, including the Tennant method, the minimum monthly average flow with 90% guarantee rate method (Mm9M method), and the measured historical minimum daily average flow rate method (MDM method). However, the ecological flow methods selected are not significantly different among different basins, indicating that the selection of ecological flow methods is rather arbitrary, and adaptability analysis is not available. The results of the ecological flow satisfaction model showed that the Tennant method is not suitable for large river basins. The results of this study can provide technical support for establishment and management decisions surrounding ecological flow.
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