Although the effectiveness of flushing floods in restoring basic environmental functions in highly engineered rivers has been extensively tested, the opportunity cost is still considered to represent an important limitation to putting these actions into practice. In this paper, we present a two-stage method for the assessment of the opportunity cost of the periodical release of flushing flows in the lower reaches of rivers with regimes that are basically controlled by series of dams equipped with hydropower generation facilities. The methodology is applied to the Lower Ebro River in Spain. The results show that the cost of the reduced power generation resulting from the implementation of flushing floods is lower than the observed willingness to pay for river restoration programmes.


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