Over the lifetime of a hydropower dam, sediment will be trapped behind the infrastructure and deposited in the reservoir.
Dams are traditionally designed to provide enough reservoir storage to offset at least 50 to 100 years of sedimentation, which is caused by natural erosion and activities such as construction, deforestation and agriculture.
As the reservoir accumulates sediment, its storage capacity will decrease. Sedimentation also causes operational and maintenance challenges, resulting in the obstruction of water intake, the abrasion of mechanical equipment, and reductions in power supply.
Downstream environmental impacts can include increased erosion, reduction in nutrient deposits inland and retreat of deltas. Changes in sedimentation due to climate change can also compromise the performance of a facility.
Effective sediment management is essential for ensuring storage capacity for water and renewable energy supply, and for protecting the health of the ecosystems that a river system supports.
Our strategy and action
IHA is building awareness and disseminating knowledge on successful sediment management strategies.
Working in collaboration with a group of industry experts and our partner organisations, we are identifying and sharing good practices on managing sediment in a variety of geographies and environments.
In December 2017, we launched a Sediment Management Knowledge Hub on the IHA website. The hub presents a range of strategies and resources, including more than 20 case studies from around the world. Resources on the hub include relevant publications and tools which aim to minimise the impacts of sedimentation and extend the life of hydropower facilities and reservoirs.
In 2019, we will continue to update the knowledge hub by sharing resources and case studies on successful applications of sediment management strategies.
Our ongoing work focuses on researching the effects of hydropower development to river connectivity and lessons learned from our sediment management case studies.
Join the network
IHA’s Sediment Management Knowledge Network supports members to learn and exchange experiences on sediment management.
If you are an IHA member, you can join the Sediment Management Knowledge Network.
IHA members can access the knowledge network in Hydropower Pro, our online member community.
In the online group, network members can connect with each other, exchange experiences and access essential resources, briefings and case studies.
For any questions, please contact IHA senior analyst María Ubierna at email@example.com
Latest associated content
The 2015 World Hydropower Congress has drawn to a close. Here we take a look at the highlights of the final two days of the congress.Type:Blog postDate:20 May 2015
The 2015 World Hydropower got under way at the iconic Sunrise Kempinski Hotel at Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China on Tuesday 19 May. Here are some of the best moments from the opening day.Type:Blog postDate:19 May 2015
A new IHA briefing, 2015 Key Trends in Hydropower, shows that hydropower is continuing its strong growth trend with 36 GW of new capacity added in 2014.Type:Blog postDate:19 May 2015
Luiz Gabriel Azevedo, Jean-Étienne Klimpt and Dr Helen Locher have been announced at the winners of the 2015 Mosonyi Award for Excellence in Hydropower.Type:News postDate:19 May 2015
We have enjoyed a busy year in 2014 that has taken our team around the world, connecting members regionally and participating in many sector events. Here are just some of the highlights of our travels.Type:Blog postDate:18 December 2014