2019 – Understanding Reservoir Sedimentation in South East Queensland

Deb Gale, Michel Raymond, Nathaniel Deering, Simon Albert, Alistair Grinham

Sedimentation of reservoirs is acknowledged as a global issue and likely impacts water storage capacity in Australia. This major challenge to our future water supply is a highly complex process with deposition leading to infilling of the reservoir of course sediments in headwaters following major inflows, progressively to finer fractions towards dam walls. Wave action and catchment inflows during drawdown conditions will further transport and redistribute sediments into the main body of the reservoir.

Managing reservoir sedimentation requires an understanding of the sediment types and deposition patterns across the reservoir. Once the location and type of sediment is known, strategies to mitigate the effects on the reservoir can be determined. Methods typically used for determining sedimentation of a reservoir are empirical or modeling techniques that rely on detailed data from inflow events, suspended solids loads and flow rates. In the absence of this data, more direct measurements to quantify the amount of sediment present can be used. Direct measurements are more robust than modelling approaches that utilise rating curves that can result in over estimations of the sediment present. This study combined several measurement techniques to produce high spatial coverage of the reservoir floor. Detailed validation of this approach was undertaken in one representative reservoir prior to adopting this approach across multiple reservoirs.

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