Sustainable water infrastructures

Hydraulic structures

Hydraulic structures have as main function to store and/or divert water and they are often vital for national and regional development. Design, operation and maintenance of dams and weirs, among other structures, is a challenging and complex topic integrating diverse specializations such as hydrology, hydraulics, geotechnics and structural engineering, but also environmental and social sciences. Dams are one of the safest man-made structures. Their safety is the result of continuous improvement and investigation on modeling and design techniques, as well as the continuous knowledge upgrading on risk and on accident consequences.

Main publications

M. Marence, P. Evangeliou, 2018: Reliability assessment of gravity dam block by coupled a Directional Adaptive Response Surface full probabilistic method and 3D coupled flow –stress finite element analysis. Proceedings of 14th ICOLD International Benchmark Workshop on Numerical Analysis of Dams, TRITA-ABE-1802001, Stockholm, Sweden.

M. Marence, A. Mihaylova, A. Hristova, J.C. Chacon-Hurtado, 2017: Arch dam deformation prediction using computational intelligence techniques. 85th Annual Meeting of International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). Prague, Czech Republics, ISBN: 978-80-906662-2-1

B. Mayer, M. Marence, 2015: Improving the seismic stability of gravity dams by curving the layout. 2nd International Dam World Conference, Lisbon, Portugal 2015

Hydropower potential

Hydropower is among the oldest renewable energy sources and by far the most important source of green energy in the world. Hydropower relies on water passing through turbines to generate electricity, while also serving as a major source of global energy storage. The challenges of hydropower are not limited only to technical issues, including also legislation, economic and environmental issues. In river basins across the world, hydropower development and management have potential impacts – positive and negative – on another water resources, biosphere and geomorphology.

Main publications

Y. Zeng, H. Houba, A. Dinar, M. Marence: Damming Trans-Boundary Rivers: A Welfare Analysis of Conflict and Cooperation (October 24, 2016). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2016-090/II. Available at SSRN:

T. Demeke, M. Marence, A.E. Mynet, 2013: Evaporation from reservoirs and hydropower water footprint. Hydro Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2013.

G. Jung, M. Marence, B. Mayer, H. Nowotny, K. Ohlbock, P. Pausz, M. Smesnik, M. Verdianz, 2018. Foundation conditions and dam type selection at Behan-Kalekoy cascade. 26th ICOLD World Congress Vienna, (in press) 

Samora I., Hasmatuchi V., Munch-Alligne C., Franca M.J., Schleiss A.J. & Ramos H.M. (2016) Experimental characterization of a five blade tubular propeller turbine for pipe inline installation. Renewable Energy,

Circularization of the energy cycle

Synergetic approaches to respond to both food and energy needs are essential to respond to the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, and in particular to attain the Sustainable Development Goals 2, 6 and 7. In human infrastructures, the hydraulic energy contained in flowing water is frequently dissipated (lost) for operational reasons. One important direction for the decarbonisation of the sources of energy must be the fight against this energy waste which is hidden in the existing hydraulic infrastructure. The use (or re-use) of the so-called wasted energy contributes to the (partial) circularisation of the energy cycle contributing to reduce (or even revert in a long term) the impact of such systems. We develop research on the identification and implementation of hydropower in non-traditional options such as agricultural and municipal water systems; existing dams and hydropower plants; and industrial processes and hydraulic circulation systems. 

Main publications

M. Marence, S. L. Tesgera, M.J. Franca: Towards the circularization of the energy cycle by implementation of hydroelectricity production in existing hydraulic systems. JRC Technical Report: Validation workshop on framing the context for operationalising the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus, Brussels, 2018. pp 125-138 

M. Marence, J.S. Ingabire, B. Taks, 2016: Integration of hydropower plant within an existing weir – “A hidden treasure”. Sustainable Hydraulics in the Era of Global Change, Taylor & Francis Group, pp 974-978, 2016. ISBN 978-1-138-02977-4

Samora I., Manso P., Franca M.J., Schleiss A.J. & Ramos H.M. (2016) Micro-hydropower production in the WSS of the city of Fribourg. WATER, 8, 344; doi:10.3390/w8080344

Samora I., Manso P., Franca M.J., Schleiss A.J. & Ramos H.M. (2016) Opportunity and economic feasibility of inline micro-hydropower units in water supply networks. Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000700, 0401605

Samora I., Franca M.J., Schleiss A.J. & Ramos H.M. (2016) Simulated annealing in optimization of energy production in a water supply network. Water Resources Management, doi: 10.1007/s11269-016-1238-5.

Sustainability of reservoirs

Reservoirs are one of the main sources of reliable water supply providing food security and energy production, besides providing flood protection for the downstream valleys. Furthermore they are key infrastructures to mitigate the effects of climate change by their capacity to store and regulate water supply; the expected increase of the hydrologic variability due to climate change will demand more water storage capacity. Dams and reservoirs played a major role in the socio-economic development during the 20th century, but practices often led to undesired environmental and social impacts. Thousands more dams and reservoirs are planned for construction in the next decades, mainly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and there is a threat that many of the unwanted impacts experienced in the last century may be repeated. We develop research on approaches to sustainable multipurpose storage, including definition of environmental flows, sedimentary management, ecology continuity, socio-economic adaptation, among others, is needed. Targeted development outcomes include improved catchment management for water, food, and energy security that is socially and environmentally sustainable and contributes directly to Agenda 2030.


S-MULTISTOR Sustainable Hydropower and Multipurpose Storage to meet Water, Food, and Energy Development Goals: A Program for Collaborative Research and Innovation, supported by the Programmatic Cooperation between the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IHE Delft in the period 2016 – 2020, also called DUPC2.

Event at the World Water Week, 30th August, Stockholm 

Main publications

Schleiss A.J., Franca M.J., Juez C. & De Cesare G. Reservoir Sedimentation – Vision Paper. Journal of Hydraulic Research, doi: 10.1080/00221686.2016.1225320

AYA Omer, YSA Ali, JA Roelvink, A Dastgheib, P Paron, A Crosato. Modelling of sedimentation processes inside Roseires Reservoir (Sudan). Earth Surface Dynamics 3 (2), 223


Connect with us

Never miss a thing!