Sediment flushing may be effective in mitigating loss of reservoir storage due to siltation, but flushing must be controlled to limit the impact on the downstream environment. A reliable prediction of the environmental effects of sediment flushing is hindered by the limited scientific information currently available. Consequently, there may be some controversy as regards to management decisions, planning the work, and monitoring strategies. This paper summarizes the main results of a monitoring campaign on the stream below a small alpine hydropower reservoir subjected to annual flushing between 2006 and 2009. The removed sediment was essentially silt, and the suspended solid concentration (SSC) of the discharged water was controlled to alleviate downstream impact. Control was achieved through hydraulic regulation and mechanical digging, alternating daytime sediment evacuation, and nocturnal clear water release. The four operations lasted about two weeks each and had an average SSC of about 4 g L-1. Maximum values of SSC were generally kept below 10 g L -1. Downstream impact was quantified through sampling of fish fauna (brown trout) and macroinvertebrate in the final reach of the effluent stream. The benthic community was severely impaired by the flushing operations, but recovered to pre-flushing values in a few months. As expected, the impact on brown trout was heavier on juveniles. While data biasing due to fish removal and re-stocking cannot be ruled out, the fish community seems to have reached a state of equilibrium characterized by a lower density than was measured before the flushing operations.

Environmental effects of storage preservation practices: controlled flushing of fine sediment from a small hydropower reservoir

ESPA, PAOLO
;
CROSA, GIUSEPPE;
2013

Abstract

Sediment flushing may be effective in mitigating loss of reservoir storage due to siltation, but flushing must be controlled to limit the impact on the downstream environment. A reliable prediction of the environmental effects of sediment flushing is hindered by the limited scientific information currently available. Consequently, there may be some controversy as regards to management decisions, planning the work, and monitoring strategies. This paper summarizes the main results of a monitoring campaign on the stream below a small alpine hydropower reservoir subjected to annual flushing between 2006 and 2009. The removed sediment was essentially silt, and the suspended solid concentration (SSC) of the discharged water was controlled to alleviate downstream impact. Control was achieved through hydraulic regulation and mechanical digging, alternating daytime sediment evacuation, and nocturnal clear water release. The four operations lasted about two weeks each and had an average SSC of about 4 g L-1. Maximum values of SSC were generally kept below 10 g L -1. Downstream impact was quantified through sampling of fish fauna (brown trout) and macroinvertebrate in the final reach of the effluent stream. The benthic community was severely impaired by the flushing operations, but recovered to pre-flushing values in a few months. As expected, the impact on brown trout was heavier on juveniles. While data biasing due to fish removal and re-stocking cannot be ruled out, the fish community seems to have reached a state of equilibrium characterized by a lower density than was measured before the flushing operations.
Reservoir siltation; Storage preservation; Controlled sediment flushing; Suspended solid concentration; Macroinvertebrates; Brown trout.
Espa, Paolo; Castelli, E.; Crosa, Giuseppe; Gentili, G.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/1845518
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