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Sediment management

Introduction

Sedimentation in river systems is caused by both natural erosion and human activities, such as deforestation, mining, agriculture and infrastructure development.

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The sediment yield varies considerably from one basin to another. Reservoirs can cause changes to sediment transport in river systems, creating an accumulation of sediment in the reservoir and reducing the sediment discharge downstream. 

Effects include increased erosion downstream and a reduction in deposition both inland and in coastal deltas. Finding solutions to the accumulation of sediment and nutrient caused by reservoirs is important for the health of the ecosystems that the river supports. 

In addition, sediment management is also needed to reduce the loss of reservoir storage capacity and therefore available water resources for multiple services, including power generation. 

Further issues needing management include the impact of sediment abrasion on gateworks, turbine equipment and other components.

 

Our work on sedimentation

We have established a working group to identify and share good practice on sedimentation management in a variety of geographies and conditions.

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The working group is focusing on the following priorities for knowledge building: 

  • investigating the knowledge base available to IHA members
  • seeking to understand how effectively sedimentation is being managed currently
  • analysing whether the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol provides effective guidance on sediment management
  • assessing the hydropower equipment industry's provision of adequate solutions for sediment abrasion; reviewing regulatory systems for their direction on sediment management
  • considering likely changes in sediment load, and/or composition, as a result of climate change.

 

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