Adaptive Management of Flows from R.L. Harris Dam (Tallapoosa River, Alabama)—Stakeholder Process and Use of Biological Monitoring Data for Decision Making

Open-File Report 2019-1026
Prepared in cooperation with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Power Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and R.L. Harris Dam Adaptive Management Stakeholders
By: , and 
Edited by: Elise Irwin



Adaptive management has been applied to problems with multiple conflicting objectives in various natural resources settings to learn how management actions affect divergent values regarding system response. Hydropower applications have only recently begun to emerge in the field, yet in the specific example reported herein, stakeholders invested in determining the best management alternatives for attainment of a suite of objectives outlined in a long-term adaptive management program below R.L. Harris Dam, a large, privately owned dam in Alabama. Stakeholders convened an objective-setting workshop to engage a governance structure and developed a decision support model to determine appropriate actions that optimized stakeholder values. The process led to implemented change in dam operation inclusive of incorporating hypothetical responses in system parameters to management. To account for the iterative loop of adaptive management, yearly monitoring of state variables that approximated many stakeholder objectives was performed from 2005 to 2016 and data collected were incorporated into the decision model. Specific analysis of fish and macroinvertebrate population responses indicated a less than satisfactory response for some stakeholders to the flow-management changes at the dam. Uncertainty regarding the best management to provide adequate hydrologic and thermal habitats for fauna and boatable days for recreationists still exists. The project led to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process for renewing the license to operate the dam (beginning in 2018); adaptive management could be a viable path forward to ensure stakeholder satisfaction related to new management options.

Suggested Citation

Irwin, E.R., ed., 2019, Adaptive management of flows from R.L. Harris Dam (Tallapoosa River, Alabama)—Stakeholder process and use of biological monitoring data for decision making: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1026, 93 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Chapter A. Adaptive Management of a Regulated River—Process for Stakeholder Engagement and Consequences to Objectives
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References Cited
  • Appendix A1. Transcripts from the Adaptive Management Workshop, April 30–May 1, 2003
  • Appendix A2. Initial Bayesian Belief Network (2005), Training Cases and Learned Networks (2005–16)
  • Appendix A3. Charter of the R.L. Harris Stakeholders Board
  • Chapter B. Long-Term Dynamic Occupancy of Shoal-Dwelling Fishes Above and Below a Hydropeaking Dam
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • References Cited
  • Appendix B
  • Chapter C. Macroinvertebrate Community Structure in Relation to Variation in Hydrology Associated with Hydropower
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Summary of Results
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • References Cited
  • Appendix C1. Standard Operating Procedures—Sorting Protocol
  • Introduction
  • Sorting Objectives
  • Materials
  • Detailed Procedures
  • Outline of Procedures
  • Appendix C2. Macroinvertebrate Data
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Adaptive management of flows from R.L. Harris Dam (Tallapoosa River, Alabama)—Stakeholder process and use of biological monitoring data for decision making
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2019-1026
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191026
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description Report: x, 93 p.; 4 Appendixes; 1 Table
Country United States
State Alabama
Other Geospatial Tallapoosa River
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details