The Effect of Dams on Reservoir Sedimentation and Environmental Flow

Topics: Dam, River, Reservoir Pages: 3 (844 words) Published: February 22, 2014
The Effect of Dams on Reservoir Sedimentation and Environmental Flow

A dam is a barrier, obstruction or blockade built for the sole purpose of storing water. There are many uses for these systems, including its combination with hydropower, and the re-distribution of the deposited water. The benefits of the dam are very valuable to everyday life. They provide flood control, water supply, fishing hydroelectric power, recreation and more. But just as we figure out how to improve energy efficiency or reduce waste, we must examine the whole picture and look at all the potential effects. Regardless of the many benefits, dams are a great threat to the safety and wellbeing of the water flow in the area that the dam is located. They have devastating effects on rivers, freshwater ecosystems, as well as the people who need them. More specifically, they have a large impact on the sediment-flow. To weaken this threat, we must make significant changes in dam operations, or even consider other possibilities.

The effect of dams on water flow is enormous. A major aspect that is impacted by the dams, is the transport of sediments or residues. Sediments flow in all rivers, as they allow the formation of many depositional features. The dam blocking the river causes these sediments to sink to the floor of the reservoir, stopping their flow altogether (McCully,1996). Not only does the flow discontinue, but this problem can literally build up. As the sediment build-up increases in the reservoir, the water storage diminishes. This results in decreased availability of water for irrigation, hydropower and more. This problem is worsening in dams all around the world. American reservoirs lose their water storage at an average of rate of 0.2% each year. Chinese reservoirs lose theirs at a rate of about 2.3% per year (McCully, 1996). There are quite a few viable and scientific solutions to this problem. To allow sediments to flow through the dam, one can acquire openings near the base...
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