Ningbo city, China, is a rapidly growing residential and industrial centre, with a current population of 4 million. Its development has required a major water supply expansion programme providing 400,000 m3 of water per day from the upper reaches of the Zhangxi River by means of a cascade of reservoirs. Water resources management is achieved through operation of two major reservoirs, Jiaokou (75 million m3) and Zhougongzhai (93 million m3). Water is released from the reservoirs, via turbines (generating hydropower), for local industry, irrigated agriculture and public supply along the lower reaches of the River and to maintain the river ecosystem. Surveys of local residents along the Zhangxi River showed its important role in aspects of life, social activity, culture and leisure. Analysis of ecological monitoring data demonstrated the diverse nature of fish, plants and invertebrates within the river. Some elements of the ecosystem have a high local economic value to local people. This paper reports an assessment of the environmental flow needed to support key species in the river ecosystem. It employs hydraulic ratings to define sections of the river where flow velocity reaches 0.5 ms-1, required to stimulate spawning of the moonlight fish, an economically important and indicator species in the river. In two out of 6 cross-sections studied, flow releases from the reservoirs meet the needs of fish. The reservoirs reduce flood flows, which may lead to a loss of deep pools that are essential for the fish to survive during winter month
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