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ACADEMIC YEAR 2014-2015,



STUDENT ID: M2014028



Lecturer Module Leader: YIPING LI

Topic on:
Impacts of water diversions and river management on floodplain in wetland

This literature review on Water diversion and Floodplain wetlands is sites of high
biodiversity that depend on flows from rivers. Dams, diversions and river
management have reduced flooding to these wetlands, altering their ecology, and
causing the death or poor health of aquatic biota. Four floodplain wetlands,
illustration of these effects with succession changes in aquatic vegetation, reduced
vegetation health, declining numbers of water-birds and nesting, and declining
native fish and invertebrate populations. much of which is diverted upstream of
floodplain wetlands. More than 50% of floodplain wetlands on developed rivers
may no longer flood. Of the entire river basins in wetland, Some floodplain
wetlands are now permanent storages. This has changed their biota from one
tolerant of a variable flooding regime, to one that withstands permanent flooding.
Plans exist to build dams to divert water from many rivers, mainly for irrigation.
These plans seldom adequately model subsequent ecological and hydrological
impacts to floodplain wetlands. To avoid further loss of wetlands, an improved
understanding of the interaction between river flows and floodplain ecology, and
investigations into ecological impacts of management practices, is essential.

Keyword: impounded runoff, river regime, reservoirs, water diversions, biota,


Introduction on water diversion

Some Wetlands have disappeared or declined in many areas around the world
(Hollis 1990, 1992; Hollis & Jones 1991; Jones et al. 1995; Sparks 1995), and
water resource development is a major cause (Allan & Flecker 1993; Dynesius &
Nilsson 1994; Ligon et al. 1995; Thomas 1996; Milliman 1997; Lemly et al.,
2000). Dams on many of the worlds large rivers divert water, produce
hydroelectricity, assist navigation and control oods (Walker 1985; Dynesius &
Nilsson 1994; Power et al. 1995). Such changes have affected estuarine and
coastal ecology (Milliman 1997), and reduced the amount of water reaching ood
plain wetlands, affecting their ecology. Over a 27-year period from 1960 to 1987,
diversion of water for irrigation upstream caused water levels in this huge inland
sea (68 000 km2 ) to drop by 13 m, decreasing the wetland area by 40%,
and having a severe impact on biodiversity (Micklin 1988). Water resource
development, primarily driven by irrigated agriculture (Kingsford 1995a; Wasson
et al. 1996), is also affecting oodplain wetlands.
Reviews of literature regarding river ecology and impacts of water resource
development on biota in wetland have generally focused on within-channel
processes of rivers (Walker 1985; Lake & Marchant 1990; Barmuta et al. 1992;
Bren 1993; Lake 1995), not on oodplain wetlands, which are perhaps most
affected by water resource development. oodplain wetlands are sites of
extraordinary biological diversity with abundant and diverse populations of
waterbirds (Morton et al. 1990a, b; Kingsford 1995b; Halse et al. 1998), native sh
(Ruello 1976; Puckridge 1999), invertebrate species (Outridge 1987; Crome &
Carpenter 1988; Shiel 1990; Boulton & Lloyd 1991), aquatic plants (Pressey
1990; Roberts & Ludwig 1991) and microbes (Boon et al. 1996). This review
begins with the natural behaviour of rivers and their oodplains, and then
examines how dams, diversions and river management have affected oodplain
wetlands, focusing on four oodplain wetlands.
Naturally owing oodplain rivers are among the more dynamic ecosystems on
earth (Power et al. 1995), with enormous spatial and temporal complexity. River
ows determine the distribution patterns of channels, back-swamps, marshes and

tributaries that make up the oodplain (Ward 1998). These oodplain wetlands
also include freshwater and saline lakes, anabranches, billabongs, lagoons,
overows and swamps. The ow regime of a river, and its connections to
oodplain wetlands, govern biotic responses, channel formation and sediment
transfer (Junk et al. 1989; Walker et al. 1995).
Floodplain wetlands receive water from rivers, the ow carries organic matter
(Outridge 1988). Other accumulated organic matter within the wetland may consist
of eucalypt leaf litter (Briggs & Maher 1983; Boulton 1991), aquatic macrophytes
from the last lling (Briggs et al. 1985), or terrestrial plants that colonise wetlands
when they dry. Arrival of water in a oodplain wetland sets off dynamic
ecological processes and interactions among a wide range of species.
Methanotrophic bacteria and algae may drive complex food webs (Bunn &
Boon 1993; Bunn & Davies 1999). Organic matter provides food for
microbes (Outridge 1988; Boon et al. 1996), zooplankton shredders and
scrapers (Lake 1995).Zooplankton emerge from newly ooded seed banks of
eggs and drought-resistant forms (Boulton & Lloyd 1992), and graze on microbes
(Boon & Shiel 1990) and plants. Sedentary biota such as aquatic macrophytes also
germinate from seed banks (Britton & Brock 1994).
Floodplain eucalypts use oodwater (Jolly & Walker 1996). Under storey
aquatic plants, such as lignum Muehlenbeckia orulenta, grow (Craig et al.
1991). Burrowing frogs, buried in a water-lled sac after the last ood (Lee &
Mercer 1967), emerge to feed and reproduce. Colonisers, such as sh larvae from
the river, arrive (Geddes & Puckridge 1989; Gehrke et al. 1995), although initial
high levels of tannins and low oxygen may limit habitat suitability (Gehrke et
al.1993). Abundant insects with rapid generation times also follow the ood
sequence (Maher & Carpenter 1984; Maher 1984), sometimes months after
ooding (Crome & Carpenter 1988). Aquatic macrophytes, invertebrates, frogs
and sh provide food for water- birds (Kingsford & Porter 1994), which
colonise the wetland from more permanent wetlands nearby (Kingsford 1996),
and breed later (Crome 1986; Lawler & Briggs 1991). A variety of reptiles and
the water rat Hydromys chrysogaster live in oodplain wetlands but knowledge of
their ecology remains relatively poor. Flowering eucalypts, frogs, sh and waterbirds may also attract terrestrial bird species such as honey- eaters and birds of

prey (Kingsford & Porter 1999). When oodplains dry, they may also provide
habitat for terrestrial animals (Briggs 1992).
The key drivers for these processes and subsequent high biodiversity are the lateral
connectivity to the river of the oodplain wetland, and the unpredictable ows that
are not well served by current models of river behaviour (Walker et al. 1995).
The River Continuum Concept (Vannote et al. 1980) and the Riverine
Productivity Model (Thorp & Delong 1994) adopt a riverine focus with little
emphasis on oodplain wetlands. Even the Serial Discontinuity Concept,
modelling impacts of dams, largely ignored oodplains initially (Ward &
Stanford 1995).
The primary objective of river management and the delivery of water for human
purposes, may be the antithesis of the provision of water to oodplain
wetlands. This objective was to provide . . . maximum supplies with minimum
waste (Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission 1971; p. 64), meaning
that the Murray-Darling Basin Commission must maximize the conservation of
water (i.e. reduce losses) under the Murray-Darling Basin Agreement (Wettin
et al. 1994). Wasted water ows to either oodplain wetlands, aquifers or the
sea. Even the language of river management extends this notion of waste. River
catchments are drainage divisions or basins ,rivers supply efuent, creeks
and oods are surplus ows (Wettin et al.1994), and high water losses occur
in oodplain wetlands (e.g. Macquarie Marshes, see Water Conservation and
Irrigation Commission 1971; p.61).
However, efuent creeks, surplus ows and lost water are the primary source of
water for oodplain wetlands. Temporary or permanent cut-off of the water
supply to oodplain wetlands can be achieved by lling dams, diverting ows
upstream, or river management on the river or oodplain (Table 1). Dams deny
oodplain wetlands of ows as they ll.
Dams can eliminate ows to oodplains by capturing the ood pulse and then
releasing this water for diversion, within the main river channel. Ecological
attention has generally focused more on the regulatory effects of dams, not on the
impacts of diversions. A cumulative synergy between dam building (including

building of weirs and off-river storages) and diversion increasingly alienates

oodplain wetlands by reducing the frequency and volume of ows to them. The
initial impact of the Hume Dam on average annual ows in the Murray River was
only 2% but, within 23 years, this had increased to 21% (Maheshwari et al. 1995),
despite increased ows diverted from eastward-owing rivers (Bevitt et al.
1998). Dams and diversions also affect the ow regime (Walker 1985), shifting
ooding from a spring to summer pattern on southern rivers (Maheshwari et al.
1995) and affecting temperature (Walker 1985), channel stability (Thoms &
Walker 1993; Walker & Thoms 1993) and salinity (Walker & Thoms 1993).
Storage releases, weir operations, rainfall rejection releases and timing of pumping
also affect natural ow variability.
After rainfall, dams and diversions of water upstream govern how much water
reaches oodplain wetlands.
Structures such as weirs, levees and block banks (Table 1) either stop or
reduce ows to the oodplain through efuent channels or distributaries (Water
Conservation and Irrigation Commission 1971; Kingsford, 1999c). Channels,
levees and drains across the oodplain can divert water to storages, denying
downstream oodplains of water. Also, water delivered at bank-full capacity
(Thoms & Walker 1993) or with low ows erodes river channels, reducing
overbank ows to oodplain wetlands.
Dams and weirs affect riverine fauna and ora (Bell et al. 1980; Harris 1984;
Walker 1985; Chessman et al. 1987; Doeg et al. 1987; Marchant 1989; Walker
& Thoms 1993) but ecological impacts on oodplain wetlands are poorly
understood. Loss of connectivity to the river changes aquatic systems to terrestrial
ecosystems. Aquatic plants, sedentary animals (burrowing frogs; aquatic
invertebrates) and microbes adapted to unpredictable ood events eventually die,
and are replaced by terrestrial vegetation. For long-lived oodplain species (e.g.
eucalypts), this may not occur for 20 or more years. Seed banks of aquatic plants
and invertebrate eggs have limited viability (Boulton & Lloyd 1992; Brock 1999).
Habitat loss may have widespread impacts for native sh and water-birds.
Regulation reduces the availability of oodplain habitat for young sh, which leads
to declining sh populations (Geddes & Puckridge 1989; Gehrke et al. 1995, 1999;
Harris & Gehrke 1997). Colonial water-birds (e.g. ibis, egrets and herons) breed on

only a few large oodplain wetlands in Australia (Marchant & Higgins 1990),
so reduced ooding may have an impact (Kingsford & Johnson 1999) on
continental populations. Changes in the timing of ooding may also have longterm impacts. We know little of the lagged effects of reduced ooding on
populations capacities to respond to ooding (Boulton & Lloyd 1992; Walker
et al. 1995). Rare large oods may maintain population abundance across
landscapes for decades (Kingsford et al. 1999). Effects on food webs and other
ecological processes are poorly known, but may be severe (Power et al. 1996).

Table 1. The variety of structures and processes that affect river ows.
River management
Block banks


Earth levees used to

control water and
stop ooding
Channels that
transfer water to
irrigation areas or
storages, bypass
natural oodplains or
capture water
owing across
Excavation to
convey water
through high ground
or between bends in
Dredging/Desnagging Estuaries and major
inland rivers dredged
to allow navigation
of large vessels.
Trees, aquatic
macrophytes and
rocks removed from
Farm dam
Small dams (usually



Time period

Increased efciency
of water ow for
(i) Transfer of water
to irrigation users
(ii) Increased
efciency of water
ow for irrigation
(iii) Capture of
oodplain ows

Main river

Early 1900s

Established irrigation

More efcient
transfer of water

(i) Navigation
(ii) Increased
efciency of water
ow for irrigation

Most estuaries and

rivers with large

(i) Water supply for

Rural areas


< 1 ha)



A bank or other
structure built out
into a channel or
other water body
(i) Earthen banks
across oodplains
(ii) Roads and
railways can have
similar effects


Enclosed part of a
river, with gates, for
moving boats or


Pump water from

creeks or rivers to
irrigation areas or
off-river storages

(ii) Water supply for
(iii) Recreation
Modication of
Main rivers
current ow and
sediment deposition
or erosion patterns
(i) Redirection of
water ows to
ooding or to harvest
water to off-river
(ii) Protection of
towns, crops and
Murray River


(i) Industry
(ii) Irrigation
(iii) Mining
(iv) Public water

Off-river storages
(on-farm storages or
ring tanks)

Public or private
water storages built
away from river
channels. They may
have earthen walls
(private) or be based
on billabongs or
temporary lakes that
are modied with
block banks or walls
contain water

Reservoirs or dams
(Government built)

Concrete wall built

across river or creek,
resulting in a large
storage of water

River transfers

Water pumped from

one catchment to

(v) Hydroelectricity
(i) Store water for
later use for
(ii) Mining


(i) Ponding of water

diverted for
irrigation, human
and livestock
industry, cooling
coal-red power
stations and mining
(ii) Generation of
(iii) Recreation
Augmentation of
water resources in a


A pipe which
Transfer of water
conveys water from between irrigation
a higher level to a
lower level over an
under natural
obstacle using
atmospheric pressure
Table 1. The variety of structures and processes that affect river ows


Diversion structures
A primary purpose of many dams, both large and small, is to facilitate water
diversions. Although existing water supplies can be stretched much further and
new water infrastructure can be delayed using water conservation and efficiency
strategies described below, people will continue to divert water from rivers and
Nearly 80 percent of water consumed in the United States comes from surface
supplies rivers, creeks and lakes. In California alone, there are more than 25,000
points of diversion from streams. Thus, there are at least 25,000 locations in the
state at which fish and other river organisms can be harmed in the process of
meeting our need for water. In many dam investigations, the question comes down
to: could we still divert water if the dam is removed or modified, or not built at all?
In many cases, the answer is yes. Several, more river-friendly alternatives to
traditional permanent dam diversion methods are discussed below, including:

Infiltration galleries and wells

Screened pipe intakes
Seasonal dams
Consolidated diversions ,http://www.appropedia.org/Water_diversion

Fugure.1 water diversion structure.


Main river

Figure 2.showing the main river and diverted blanch.

2.2 River channel water demand
River water demand includes sediment transmission water in flood season and
ecological water requirement in non-flood season.

a) Sediment transmission water in flood season

Consider sand reduction of water and soil conservation and sustainable main
channel, based on large amount of comprehensive analysis, the sediment
transmission water in flood season(Beijing, 2010)
b) The ecological water requirement in non-flood season


Based on the comprehensive analysis of the Yellow River water resources, and
considering the current situation and future water supply and demand
situation.(Beijing, 2010).
2.3 Hydrology reach of the river
The operation of High Aswan Dam has its influence on flow rate and flow level
downstream Aswan Dam throughout the year. Historical records show remarkable
reduction in the maximum flow rate after High Aswan Dam. Although, Nile River
is regulated by High Aswan Dam throughout the year, the analysis of hydrological
data set shows increase in the released flow from High Aswan Dam during the
period between 1995 and 2008. The variation on flow discharge throughout the
water year which extends between August and july of the following year is
remarkable. During the period of maximum flow rate, discharge can reach up to
4.5 times the minimum flow rate. The fluctuation in the flow rate is reflected on
the water level downstream Aswan .(Raslan & Salama, 2015)
Diversion Head Works
Any hydraulic structure which supplies water to the off-taking canal is called a
headwork. Headwork may be divided into two:
a. Storage headwork.
b. Diversion headwork. (NA, 2011)
A Storage headwork comprises the construction of a dam on the river. It stores
water during the period of excess supplies and releases it when demand overtakes
available supplies. A diversion headwork serves to divert the required supply to
canal from the river. A diversion head works (or a weir) is a structure constructed
across a river for the purpose of raising water level in the river so that it can be
diverted into the off taking canals.(NA, 2011)
Diversion headworks are generally constructed on the perennial rivers which have
adequate flow throughout the year and, therefore, there is no necessity of creating a
storage reservoir. A diversion head works must be differentiated from a storage
work or a dam. A dam is constructed on the river for the purpose of creating a
large storage reservoir. The storage works are required for the storage of water on a
non-perennial river or on a river with inadequate flow throughout the year. On the
other hand, in a diversion head works, there is very little storage, if any.


If the storage on the upstream of a diversion head works is significant, it is called a

storage weir. If diversion headworks is constructed on the downstream of a dam
for the purpose of diverting water released from the u/s dam into the off taking
canals, it is called a pickup weir. Generally, the dam is constructed in the rocky or
the mountainous reach of the river where the conditions are suitable for a dam, and
a pickup weir is constructed near the commanded area in the alluvial reach of the
A diversion head works serves the following functions: It raises the water level on
its upstream side, It regulates the supply of water into canals, It controls the entry
of silt into canals, It creates a small pond (not reservoir) on its upstream and
provides some pondage, It helps in controlling the vagaries of the river.


Naturally flowing floodplain rivers are among the more dynamic ecosystems on
earth (Power et al. 1995), with enormous spatial and temporal complexity. River
flows determine the distribution patterns of channels, back swamps, marshes and
tributaries that make up the floodplain (Ward 1998). These floodplain wetlands
also include freshwater and saline lakes, anabranches, billabongs, lagoons,


overflows, swamps and waterholes in Australia. The flow regime of a river, and its
connections to floodplain wetlands, govern biotic responses, channel formation and
sediment transfer (Junk et al. 1989; Walker et al. 1995).
A diversion headwork consist of the following component parts
1. Weir or barrage, 2. Under sluices, 3. Divide wall, 4. Fish ladder, 5. Canal head
regulator, 6. Pocket or approach channel, 7. Silt excluders/Silt, 8. River training

Layout of a Diversion Head Works and its components

Under sluice:
Under sluice sections are provided adjacent to the canal head regulators. The under
sluices should be able to pass fair weather flow for which the crest shutters on the
weir proper need not be dropped. The crest level of the under sluices is generally

kept at the average bed level of the river. During the floods the gates are opened so
afflux is very small.

A weir maintains a constant pond level on its upstream side so that the water can
flow into the canals with the full supply level (F.S.L.). If the difference between
the pond level and the crest level is less than 15 m or so, a weir is usually
constructed. On the other hand, if this difference is greater than 150 m, a gatecontrolled barrage is generally more suitable than a weir. In the case of a weir, the
crest shutters are dropped during floods so that the water can pass over the crest.
During the dry period, these shutters are raised to store water upto the pond level.
Generally, the shutters are operated manually, and there is no mechanical
arrangement for raising or dropping the shutters. On the 'other hand, in the case of
a barrage, the control of pondage and flood discharge is achieved with the help of
gates which are mechanically operated (NA, 2011)
The weirs may be broadly divided into the following types
Vertical drop weirs, Rock fills weirs., Concrete glacis or sloping weirs.
Vertical drop weirs


A vertical drop weir consists of a masonry wall with a vertical (or nearly vertical)
downstream face and a horizontal concrete floor. The shutters are provided at the
crest, which are dropped during floods so as to reduce afflux. The water is ponded
upto the top of the shutters during the rest of the period. Vertical drop weirs were
common in quite early diversion headworks, but these are now becoming more or

The vertical drop weir is suitable for hard clay foundation as well as consolidated
gravel foundations, and where the drop is small. The upstream and downstream
cutofIwalls (or piles) are provided upto the scour depth. The weir floor is designed
as a gravity section.
Rockfill weirs
In a rockfill type weir, in addition to the main weir wall, there are a number of core
walls. The space between the core walls is filled with the fragments of rock (called
rockfill). A rockfill weir requires a lot of rock fragments and is economical only
when a huge quantity of rockflll is easily available near the weir site. It is suitable
for fine sand foundation. The old Okhla Weir across the Yamuna river is a rockfill
weir. Such weirs are also more or less obsolete these days.


Concrete sloping weir

Concrete sloping weirs (or glacis weirs) are of relatively recent origin. The crest
has glacis (sloping floors) on upstream as well as downstream. There are sheet
piles (or cut off walls) driven upto the maximum scour depth at the upstream and
downstream ends of the concrete floor. Sometimes an intermediate pile is also
driven at the beginning of the upstream glacis or at the end of downstream glacis.
The main advantage of a sloping weir over the vertical drop weir is that a hydraulic
jump is formed on the d/s glacis for the dissipation of energy. Therefore, the
sloping weir is quite suitable for large drops.

Impact of the Water Diversion Project on the Region

The shifted amount accounts and total runoff at the outlet of the Reservoir. This
will change mainstream influx and seasonal distribution in the middle and lower
reaches of the other River, leading to a series of secondary changes in varied
degrees in the following aspects: anti-flooding situation, river route sedimentation,
water quality, navigational activities, farming irrigation, industrial product ion and
urban development(DU Yun, 2006). The extent of potential environmental impacts
in these watersheds is especially troubling given the region is a recognized
biodiversity hotspot. According to Ricketts.


Since the idea of the water diversion is first proposed, aspects of the effort have
raised concerns and questions in the academic community. Most of the objections
relate to negative impacts on the environments of the water source and destination
areas as well as areas along the transfer route; technological limits on boring long
large tunnels and constructing big dams; the consequences of a geological disaster
that could imperil infrastructure, e.g., dams, tunnels, reservoirs, canals, power
stations, and sluices; and issues of international water resource allocation.


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