Sedimentation in Small Hydropower Reservoirs

by Charles C. Baggs, South Dakota Sch of Mines &, Technology, Civil Engineering Dep, Rapid City, SD, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water for Resource Development


Small-scale hydropower projects, which usually include reservoirs of limited size, may inherently incorporate severe sedimentation problems. The ratio of reservoir volume to sediment inflow volume can be very small compared to that of major hydroelectric installations, resulting in rapid reduction of water storage capacity. At the same time, the trap efficiency of such reservoirs is low, with attendant high sediment concentrations in turbine-flow water, and implications of high turbine wear rates. The response of the stream to this type facility must also be taken into account. Such considerations have evoked unconventional methods of operation on the Little White River hydropower facility in South Dakota. The reservoir is flushed of sediment. The useful life of the system has thereby been extended by perhaps a half-century. The operating methods have in turn created unique sedimentation patterns in the reservoir and have mitigated stream impacts.

Subject Headings: Sediment | Hydro power | Reservoirs | Turbines | Power plants | Water storage | Inflow | Professional societies | South Dakota | United States

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