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AGU journal highlights -- July 16, 2013

lan to use the dam at the Itezhi-Tezhi Reservoir that blocks the Kafue River in Zambia for power generation. Compared with more-industrialized regions, the Kafue River area is poor in nutrients, as farmers do not use fertilizers. Therefore, the presence of the Itezhi-Tezhi Reservoir is currently removing nutrients needed for productivity in the downstream regions. Using the Itezhi-Tezhi Reservoir as a case study, Kunz et al. devise an approach that should allow for optimizing the quality of the water being loosed from a reservoir without affecting the dam's capacity for power generation.

The authors' approach revolves around drawing from the two layers of the stratified reservoir water, balancing the mix of oxygenated shallower water and nutrient-rich deeper water. The authors note that though technology exists to re-oxygenate depleted reservoir water, the necessary equipment is often expensive to operate and maintain. Using a biogeochemical model of nutrient cycling, the authors calculate that by using a mix of water from around 13 meters (43 feet) depth and from more than 30 meters (about 100 feet) depth from the Itezhi-Tezhi Reservoir, they could maximize the nutrient load while avoiding releasing hypoxic water.

Source: Water Resources Research, doi:10.1002/wrcr.20358, 2013

Title: Optimizing turbine withdrawal from a tropical reservoir for improved water quality in downstream wetlands

Authors: Manuel J. Kunz, David B. Senn, Bernhard Wehrli and Alfred West: Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Surface Waters Research and Management, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland, and Institute of Biogeochemistry and Pollutant Dynamics, Zurich, Switzerland;

Elenestina M. Mwelwa: Hydrology Department, ZESCO Limited, Lusaka, Zambia.

Contact: Mary Catherine Adams
American Geophysical Union

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