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The Role of Sediments and Hydropower in River Basin Management – a Contribution to the UNESCO IHP World´s Large Rivers Initiative RiBaM – WLRI

Project Leader
Habersack Helmut, Project Leader
Type of Research
Applied Research
Hauer Christoph, Sub Projectleader
Liedermann Marcel Georg, Sub Projectleader
Wagner Beatrice, Sub Projectleader (bis 30.04.2022)
Fuhrmann Martin, Project Staff (bis 31.10.2021)
Scheuer Sabrina, Project Staff (bis 31.03.2022)
BOKU Research Units
Institute of Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and River Research
Funded by
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 7 place Fontenoy, 75352 Paris, International Organization
The transport of sediments is a natural process in river systems. However, human activities have led to significant changes of natural sediment loads in rivers and their tributaries over the past decades. These changes negatively influence important water management issues such as flood risk, inland navigation, ecology and hydropower generation. Especially for the latter, the loss of storage capacity due to sedimentation is a significant problem. Global storage capacity of reservoirs is being depleted by sedimentation faster than new reservoir capacity is being built, resulting in the declining trend of net reservoir storage. Considering the data on new dam construction together with an estimated rate of 1% annual loss of storage capacity shows that the total volume of storage capacity is declining worldwide. Moreover, when global storage volume is demonstrated on a per capita basis, it becomes evident that the water storage capacity peaked around 1980 and has been steeply declining since.
The research questions are "what is the status of the World´s Large Rivers based on three case studies?" and "which methodology can be used to have a unique globally unified assessment?".
To address the described problems, the following objectives have been identified:
I. Case studies: To improve the understanding of problems related to sediment management in the river basins with a focus on interactions of sediments and hydropower plants with free flowing sections through dedicated case studies.
II. Capacity building: To improve knowledge and promote capacity building in the hydropower and integrated river management sector.
The main Deliverables include the inception report describing the common methodology to assess rivers, harmonised data sets of the three rivers, status reports on the Mekong, the Niger and the Danube, an inception report detailing the implementation plan for capacity building and knowledge transfer and contributions to a guideline document for practitioners and a guideline document for policy-makers.
Beneficiaries: In each river basin hydropower companies, navigation companies and authorities, floodrisk managers, environmental groups and governmental institutions will benefit by the project deliverables, training workshops and through webinars. In total 50 persons from the beneficiaries per river basin will be involved.
Implementation: global
Environmental research; Structural hydraulic engineering; Hydropower plant construction; Water management; Civil protection and disaster control;
Danube Mekong Niger; large rivers; sediment; hydropower;
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