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Predicting reservoir sedimentation
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Sediments accumulate in reservoirs and significantly decrease storage capacity. Predicting sedimentation is an important consideration in the design of new reservoir projects and in the management of existing reservoirs. Sedimentation rates may vary greatly between reservoirs with different watershed characteristics and typically vary greatly over time with random variations in rainfall and streamflow. The objective of the research reported is to develop, test, and apply a sediment prediction methodology that (1) makes optimal use of available hydrologic data and watershed modeling capabilities and (2) reflects the stochastic nature of rainfall and streamflow and the resulting sediment loads. The methodology is designed for predicting both the amount of sediment currently accumulated in existing reservoirs and the likelihood of various amounts of sedimentation occurring during future time periods. The approach for estimating sediment inflows to a reservoir combines (1) the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) watershed model for developing relationships between streamflow discharge and sediment load, (2) use of historical sediment accumulation amounts determined from hydrographic surveys to adjust parameters in the watershed model, (3) recorded reservoir inflows, and (4) a stochastic model for synthesizing sequences of streamflows that preserve the statistical characteristics of the observed flows. The methodology results in (1) an estimate of historical sediment accumulation and (2) a sediment accumulation versus exceedance frequency relationship for a specified future multiple-year time period. The sediment prediction procedure was applied to Somerville, Granger, and Aquilla Reservoirs. For each reservoir, the methodology was time of impoundment to the resurvey. This estimate was compared to the sediment accumulation determined directly from the survey. The sediment prediction approach was then applied to each reservoir to develop sediment accumulation versus exceedance frequency curve for the next 25-years. The results of the SWAT simulated sedimentation closely resemble the observed sedimentation with less than 2 percent error. The sediment prediction results over the next 25-years are approximately 3000, 14500, and 14500 acre-feet for Somerville, Granger, and Aquilla Reservoirs, respectively.
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Includes bibliographical references: p. 66-70.
Issued also on microfiche from Lange Micrographics.
Wooten, Stephanie (1997). Predicting reservoir sedimentation. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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