Sediment balance of the Ribarroja Reservoir

A. Tena, D. Vericat, R.J. Batalla


The aim of this study was to build up a sediment budget of the Ribarroja Reservoir, which is located in the lower reach of the River Ebro. For this purpose, we analysed continuous discharge and suspended sediment transport data at several river sections entering the reservoir and at the dam outlet, for the period 2008-2011. The sediment load estimated upstream of the Mequinenza reservoir was 0.66×10t a-1, whereas the estimated output was 0.04×106 t a-1. The sediment input coming from the large but highly regulated Pyrenean tributaries (Segre and Cinca) was 0.16×106 t a-1, whereas intermittent rivers naturally flowing from the Iberian Range (Matarraña and Algars) supplied an average load of 760 t a-1. The suspended sediment load trapped in the Mequinenza and Ribarroja reservoirs for the study period was estimated at 0.78×106 t a-1, which implies a reduction of ca. 95% of the sediment load of the river. The results illustrate the role of reservoirs in interrupting the sediment transfer in the lower reach of the Ebro, within a context of structural sediment deficit, following widespread land use changes (afforestation) that took place in the catchment after the 1940s.


sediment balance; reservoirs; Ebro River; suspended sediment


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