Science/Ecology

Geomorphic response to river flow regulation: case studies and time-scales

Volume: 
Vol. 11( ) 3-22
Year: 
1995
Abstract: 

River regulation imposes primary changes on flow and sediment transfer, the principal factors governing the alluvial channel regime. In this study, the effect of flow regulation is isolated from sediment delivery. Peace River was regulated in 1967 for hydropower. The gravel-bed reach immediately downstream from the dam has become stable. Gravel accumulates at major tributary junctions, so the river profile is becoming stepped. Further downstream, the river has a sand bed. It can still transport sand, so morphological changes along the channel include both aggradation and channel narrowing by lateral aggradation. In the gravel-bed Kemano River, the addition of water by diversion from another river caused degradation when additional bed material was entrained below the inflow point. However, the effect became evident only after many years, when a competent flood occurred. The short-term response was channel widening. The time-scale for the response depends on the size of the river and the nature and severity of regulation. In both rivers, significant adjustment will require centuries and will intimately involve the riparian forest.

Author(s): 

Church, M.

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