Hydrological dam safety assessment methods traditionally assume that the reservoir is full while it receives the design flood. In practice, reservoir management strategy determines the probability distribution of reservoir levels at the beginning of flood episodes. In this study we present a method to economically assess the influence of reservoir management strategy on hydrological dam safety and downstream flood risk. The method was applied to a gated-spillway dam located in the Tagus river basin. A set of 100000 inflow hydrographs was generated through a Monte Carlo procedure, reproducing the observed statistics of main hydrograph characteristics: peak flow, volume and duration. The set of 100000 hydrographs was routed through the reservoir applying the Volumetric Operation Method as flood control strategy. Three different scenarios were studied: initial reservoir level equal to maximum normal level, equal to a maximum conservation level and following the probability distribution of initial reservoir levels. In order to evaluate economically the influence of initial variable reservoir level and compare the three scenarios, a global risk index was applied. The index combines the hydrological risk for the dam, linked to the maximum water level experienced in the reservoir while the flood is routed, and the flood risk in the downstream river reach, linked to the discharge releases from the dam. The results highlighted the importance of considering the fluctuation of initial reservoir level for assessing the risk related to hydrological dam safety. Within the case study, the global risk index reduced its value up to 93 % if variable initial reservoir level is accounted, from 1445.6 x103 to 83 x103 euros.
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