The aim of this study is to contribute to solving conflicts that arise in the operation of multipurpose reservoirs when determining maximum conservation levels (MCLs). The specification of MCLs in reservoirs that are operated for water supply and flood control may imply a reduction in the volume of water supplied with a pre-defined reliability in the system. The procedure presented in this study consists of the joint optimization of the reservoir yield with a specific reliability subject to constraints imposed by hydrological dam safety and downstream river safety. We analyzed two different scenarios by considering constant or variable initial reservoir level prior to extreme flood events. In order to achieve the global optimum configuration of MCLs for each season, we propose the joint optimization of three variables: minimize the maximum reservoir level (return period of 1000 years), minimize the maximum released outflow (return period of 500 years) and maximize the reservoir yield with 90% reliability. We applied the methodology to Riaño Dam, jointly operated for irrigation and flood control. Improvements in the maximum reservoir yield (with 90% reliability) increased up to 10.1% with respect to the currently supplied annual demand (545 hm3
) for the same level of dam and downstream hydrological safety. The improvement could increase up to 26.8% when compared to deterministic procedures. Moreover, dam stakeholders can select from a set of Pareto-optimal configurations depending on if their main emphasis is to maintain/increase the hydrological safety, or rather to maintain/increase the reservoir yield.
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