Study region: A large, densely populated area nearby Padova (Veneto Region, Italy) is exposed to floods owing to the Brenta-Bacchiglione river network, which is formed by two main rivers and by a set of interconnected channels, control structures and pump stations. Study focus: The Brenta and Bacchiglione rivers suffer from an increasing pressure in terms of flood events, especially for urban sprawl, anthropogenic modifications of drainage networks, and climate change. Finding and implementing effective remedies is hard in developed countries due to the presence of several constraints. Optimal flood management in complex river networks is then a way to reduce flood hazard, at a relatively low cost compared to structural measures. Hence, optimal operation rules for floodgates at an existing control structure are searched for to control the upstream water level and to divert a proper amount of the Bacchiglione discharge into the Brenta River. The operation rules have been endorsed by the Civil Engineering Department in charge of flood management and have been implemented in the flood forecasting Early Warning System of the Regional Civil Protection Office. New hydrological insights: The proper operation of control structures allows reducing flood risk by balancing the water discharge in the river networks. The engagement of end-users proves beneficial as it fosters exchange of knowledge and allows for the effective adoption of research outcomes in decision making.
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