Related Software Developments

Pool-based rule curves in RTC Tools - interview with Indra Marth

Pool-based rule curves in RTC Tools - interview with Indra Marth

On September 1st, I interviewed Indra Marth from RWTH Aachen University. She started working at Deltares from June this year and plans to finish her study in October. We talked about her experience working at Deltares and her research into pool-based rule curves in relation to RTC Tools. She even has a suggestion for a follow-up study. Thanks to Indra for giving this interview and good luck with the final chapters of your report! 
Ilonka ten Broeke 




When I was looking for an internship, a friend recommended Deltares. I visited the web page and I was immediately interested. Shortly after, Bernhard Becker, researcher at Deltares, gave a lecture at our university, so I asked him whether an internship would be possible. I came to Deltares and while talking about the proposed project and his ongoing research in this field, I became curious. So, I took up the challenge to further complement his study with this interesting task.

The goal was to develop pool-based rule curves, which are used as a decision support tool for reservoir operations, with RTC-Tools as the optimization program. Pool-based rule curves indicate how much water to release, and when to release it (see figure below). Different and sometimes conflicting reservoir purposes should be considered. Energy production, for example, requires a high water level, while flood management requires low water levels. Although literature suggests that pool-based rule curves can be determined via optimization, there was no practical guidance available for how to generate them. It is, however, known from literature that it is necessary to interpret and post-process the optimization results. The overall goal is to create a step-by-step guide about how to use RTC-Tools to generate pool-based rule curves and thereby standardize post-processing of the optimization results.

Pool-based rule curves can support operators if no operational rules are available. As the hydrologic conditions or reservoir function(s) change, the pool-based curves must be adapted accordingly. The impact of climate change is a good example of this. This study aims to adapt pool-based rule curves as easily and automatically as possible. In the Netherlands, knowledge about how reservoirs along the domestic rivers are operated across international borders could maybe be useful for forecasting.


In the beginning of this project I investigated a few approaches, none of which lead to the desired results. I thought it would be possible to immediately generate the pool-based rule curves from the optimization results, and I had not expected the post-processing of the optimization results to be required. But then I found a description of this behavior in the literature, and I concentrated on standardizing the post-processing. At a certain point, I needed specialist advice about specific fields, such as mathematics, to better understand my model’s behavior. Fortunately, I could count on the cooperation of my Deltares colleagues for this. Experts were always ready to help and advise.  From the technical perspective, I found that the flexibility offered by RTC-Tools is very helpful. Problems and tasks can be individually represented and adapted. Also, changes could be easily integrated.  

My advice would be to start looking at the examples that are already available in this field. You could look up different commands and functions and consult the documentation available. 

This depends on my future job. What I can say, is that I found it very interesting, and I can imagine working with optimization in the future if I have another opportunity to do so. Programming was sometimes challenging, because of my technical background, but I enjoyed it and would like to continue with it.

I really liked working at Deltares, and I have learned a lot. My colleagues had a wealth of professional knowledge, and I appreciated the guidance from my tutor, Bernhard. I found Deltares to be very multi-disciplinary and internationally-organized. Speaking English and working together with colleagues from all over the world makes for special team dynamics, which I enjoyed very much.

In my study I worked with an example from the literature with a rather theoretical background and a small data set. What would be interesting for a next study, is to further research how pool-based rule curves behave if the method is applied to more complex goals or systems, working with large data sets.

I think that the advantage of the method is that it aims to generate pool-based rule curves more automatically with the optimization process. It aims to support an easy and fast generation of pool-based rule curves, even for more complex systems. In addition to the optimization functionality, the simulation mode of RTC-Tools was very useful, especially for validation.  In general, I found RTC-Tools to be a powerful tool.