Inflow Forecasting for Muskrat Falls Flood Management

Nalcor Energy | Canada | 2014

Automatic data acquisition and inflow forecasting
Scheduled dam construction at reduced cost
Improved worker safety at dam site


  • During the construction of the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador, Canada, Nalcor Energy needed to properly manage scheduling at the site. 
  • The Churchill Falls Generating Station has plant outflows ranging from 1000 m3/s overnight to 3000 m3/s during the day, so accurate inflow forecasts were also needed. 
  • The outflows significantly impact water volume at the Muskrat Falls dam site and the lower river, where peak spring flows can be as high as 6500 m3/s. 
  • A software tool that could both manage the construction schedule and provide accurate forecasts of inflow volumes, especially during the spring runoff, was needed.


  • The inflow Vista module of Vista DSS™ was set up and calibrated for the lower Churchill River. 
  • The setup included six subwatersheds. 
  • Flow releases from the upstream Churchill Falls hydroelectric generation station on the Churchill River, which constitute a large portion of the river flow at Muskrat Falls, are represented in the model.


  • Vista produces continuous inflow forecasts that are updated daily, and route flows down the Churchill River to the Muskrat Falls project. 
  • Vista also projects outflows and water levels at the Muskrat Falls dam site. 
  • For short-term inflow forecasts, Vista features automatic access of real-time hydrometric and weather data, snow course data, and pertinent meteorological forecast data. 
  • To assess the risk of the river flow flooding the construction site, extended streamflow prediction forecasts are generated periodically using observed and historical temperature and precipitation data. 

Project numbers

6 sub-watersheds
6500 m3/s peak spring flows
1000 m3/s outflows overnight to 3000 m3/s during the day

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