The Mitigation Potential of Buffer Strips for Reservoir Sediment Yields: The Itumbiara Hydroelectric Power Plant in Brazil

Marta P. Luz (Lead / Corresponding author), Lindsay C. Beevers, Alan J. S. Cuthbertson, Gabriela M. Medero, Viviane S. Dias, Diego T. F. Nascimento

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Soil erosion and deposition mechanisms play a crucial role in the sustainability of both existing reservoirs and newly planned projects. Soil erosion is one of the most important factors influencing sediment transport yields, and, in the context of existing reservoirs, the surrounding watersheds supply both runoff and sediment yield to the receiving water body. Therefore, appropriate land management strategies are needed to minimize the influence of sediment yields on reservoir volume and, hence, the capacity of power generation. In this context, soil erosion control measures such as buffer strips may provide a practical and low-cost option for large reservoirs, but need to be tested at the catchment scale. This paper represents a study case for the Itumbiara hydroelectric power plant (HPP) in Brazil. Four different scenarios considering radially planted buffer strips of Vetivergrass with widths of 20 m, 40 m, 100 m and 200 m are analyzed. A semi-distributed hydrological model, SWAT, was used to perform the simulations. Results indicate a reduction of sediments transported to the reservoir of between 0.2% and 1.0% per year is possible with buffer strip provision, and that this reduction, over the life of Itumbiara HPP, may prove important for lengthening the productivity of the plant.
Original languageEnglish
Article number489
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2016


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