Variability of the useful life of reservoirs in tropical locations: a case study from the Burdekin Falls Dam, Australia

Cooper, Michelle, Lewis, Stephen E., Stieglitz, Thomas C., and Smithers, Scott G. (2018) Variability of the useful life of reservoirs in tropical locations: a case study from the Burdekin Falls Dam, Australia. International Journal of Sediment Research, 33. pp. 93-106.

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Large dam construction for irrigation, hydropower, water supply, and flood control in tropical to subtropical areas increased markedly after 1950. Many of the dams built during this period have filled with sediment and no longer perform to their original design specifications; in many cases, forecast dam life was greatly overestimated. This study investigates the useful life of Burdekin Falls Dam (BFD), northeastern Australia and compares the findings with other tropical reservoirs. Using two independent methods it is estimated that between 61 and 65 million m3 of sediment has been deposited in the reservoir over the 24 years of operation through 2011. This sediment volume equates to an average of 0.15% of capacity lost per year since construction was completed. If current sediment loads/climate regimes persist, reservoir capacity will be reduced by 50% after 345 years. However, the useful life of the BFD reduces to just 276 years when draw down data are considered; these data show reservoir use would be affected once 40% of storage was filled with sediment, with a 60% draw down return period of 1 in 15 years. When compared to similar large tropical to sub-tropical reservoirs, the BFD has a slightly longer reservoir useful life than dams in India and a much longer half-life than for both similar-sized and larger dams in China, Brazil, and Iran. Properties of the BFD that promote a longer useful life include a lower trap efficiency, relatively low annual sediment load delivered to the reservoir, limited sediment deposition behind the dam wall (and uniform distribution of deposited sediment), and the export of highly turbid annual floodwaters before settling and deposition of any remaining sediment within the reservoir.

Item ID: 56677
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2589-7184
Keywords: reservoir half-life, Lake Dalrymple, sediment trapping, trap efficiency, tropical reservoir, useful life
Copyright Information: © 2017 International Research and Training Centre on Erosion and Sedimentation/the World Association for Sedimentation and Erosion Research. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Funders: Land and Water Australia (LWA), James Cook University
Projects and Grants: LWA Project JCU 18
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2019 04:35
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960913 Water Allocation and Quantification @ 100%
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