The absence of a rational, comprehensive, flexible and easy to use method with minimum data requirement to determine rivers’ environmental flow requirements is the main motivation for this research. Based on the microhabitat preferences of index species, hydrological (the Tennant and Q 95) and hydraulic methods for determining the environmental flow requirement (EFR) are compared. Using an ad hoc procedure, the important species of a river at the southern part of the Caspian Sea in Iran were distinguished, and the discharges to maintain the microhabitat (depth and velocity) in critical months were calculated. The observed differences between the index species’ required velocity and depth and those suggested by the Tennant method emphasize the importance of the rivers morphological properties for this method application. Allocating EFR by the Tennant and Q 95 methods would degrade the aquatic life. The EFR determined by the hydraulic method is equal to 95 % of the average annual discharge, which could maintain the ecological habitat in good situation, but may provoke a conflict in the region. The Tennant, Q 95 and hydraulic methods allocate EFR as 14, 36 and 79 % of the annual flow volume, respectively. Developing a new combined method based on using the hydraulic method’s discharge for critical months and the Tennant method suggestion for the excellent condition in other months allocates 50 % of the average annual discharge. This new method is a compromise between protecting environment and considering the water rights of rivers’ flow consumers and is suggested specially for dry regions of the world.