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Targeted Water Releases to Flush Fine Sediment Out of a Bypassed Reach of the Durance River Downstream of Four Dams

Author(s): Remi Loire; Herve Piegay; Jean-Rene Malavoi; Leah Beche; Quentin Dumoutier; Julie Mosseri

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Abstract: The Durance River is a highly regulated, gravel-bed river with a naturally high fine sediment load in southern France. EDF operates eight dams along the regulated main stream channel (218km from the Serre-Ponon Dam to the confluence with the Rhne River), that divert water to 16 hydroelectric power plants via a canal. Flow regulation has contributed to fine sediment accumulation (clogging) in the Durance River. In addition to a recent increase in minimum flows has implemented targeted water releases at four out of eight dams to simulate floods and reduce clogging to restore river function for fishes and invertebrates, The timing of these releases is defined for each dam based on the spawning period of target fish species. During the release, TSS, O2, T, H, and conductivity are measured continuously. Before and after each release, clogging (superficial/interstitial) is measured. This monitoring program showed that several of the releases were not effective on surface clogging inducing a loss of water or resulted in effects contrary to those sought, although this was not reflected in the biological results. These results indicate that two parameters must be taken into account to determine a priori the need to carry out releases: the hydrology observed during the year and the initial level of clogging. Artificial flood releases are increasingly being used a management tool to mitigate hydropower impacts on river hydromorphology and ecology. This experimentation shows that it is necessary to carry out these types of operations in an adaptive management context. At this time, the results obtained do not lead to clear conclusions regarding their efficacy, mostly as a result of strong interannual variation in hydroclimatic conditions, which have a strong influence on initial conditions and resulting outcomes. Furthermore, it is important to incorporate this field measurements and not rely solely on turbidity gauging stations to evaluate efficacy.


Year: 2018

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