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Concept: Reservoir


Background Reservoirs created by damming rivers are often believed to increase malaria incidence risk and/or stretch the period of malaria transmission. In this paper, we report the effects of a mega hydropower dam on P. falciparum malaria incidence in Ethiopia.Methods A longitudinal cohort study was conducted over a period of 2 years to determine Plasmodium falciparum malaria incidence among children less than 10 years of age living near a mega hydropower dam in Ethiopia. A total of 2080 children from 16 villages located at different distances from a hydropower dam were followed up from 2008 to 2010 using active detection of cases based on weekly house to house visits. Of this cohort of children, 951 (48.09%) were females and 1059 (51.91%) were males, with a median age of 5 years. Malaria vectors were simultaneously surveyed in all the 16 study villages. Frailty models were used to explore associations between time-to-malaria and potential risk factors, whereas, mixed-effects Poisson regression models were used to assess the effect of different covariates on anopheline abundance.Results Overall, 548 (26.86%) children experienced at least one clinical malaria episode during the follow up period with mean incidence rate of 14.26 cases/1000 child-months at risk (95% CI: 12.16 - 16.36). P. falciparum malaria incidence showed no statistically significant association with distance from the dam reservoir (p = 0.32). However, P. falciparum incidence varied significantly between seasons (p < 0.01). The malaria vector, Anopheles arabiensis, was however more abundant in villages nearer to the dam reservoir.Conclusions P. falciparum malaria incidence dynamics were more influenced by seasonal drivers than by the dam reservoir itself. The findings could have implications in timing optimal malaria control interventions and in developing an early warning system in Ethiopia.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Anopheles, Dam, Reservoir


Tempo-spatial patterns of mercury bioaccumulation and tropho-dynamics, and the potential for a reservoir effect were evaluated in the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR, China) from 2011 to 2012, using total mercury concentrations (THg) and stable isotopes (δ(13)C and δ(15)N) of food web components (seston, aquatic invertebrates and fish). Hg concentrations in aquatic invertebrates and fish indicated a significant temporal trend associated with regular seasonal water-level manipulation. This includes water level lowering to allow for storage of water during the wet season (summer); a decrease of water levels from September to June providing a setting for flood storage. Hg concentrations in organisms were the highest after flooding. Higher Hg concentrations in fish were observed at the location farthest from the dam. Hg concentrations in water and sediment were correlated. Compared with the reservoirs of United States and Canada, TGR had lower trophic magnification factors (0.046-0.066), that are explained primarily by organic carbon concentrations in sediment, and the effect of “growth dilution”. Based on comparison before and after the impoundment of TGR, THg concentration in biota did not display an obvious long-term reservoir effect due to (i) short time since inundation, (ii) regular water discharge associated with water-level regulation, and/or (iii) low organic matter content in the sediment.

Concepts: Water, Water pollution, Hydrology, River, Dam, Flood, Level, Reservoir


More than 70,000 large dams have been built worldwide. With growing water stress and demand for energy, this number will continue to increase in the foreseeable future. Damming greatly modifies the ecological functioning of river systems. In particular, dam reservoirs sequester nutrient elements and, hence, reduce downstream transfer of nutrients to floodplains, lakes, wetlands, and coastal marine environments. Here, we quantify the global impact of dams on the riverine fluxes and speciation of the limiting nutrient phosphorus (P), using a mechanistic modeling approach that accounts for the in-reservoir biogeochemical transformations of P. According to the model calculations, the mass of total P (TP) trapped in reservoirs nearly doubled between 1970 and 2000, reaching 42 Gmol y(-1), or 12% of the global river TP load in 2000. Because of the current surge in dam building, we project that by 2030, about 17% of the global river TP load will be sequestered in reservoir sediments. The largest projected increases in TP and reactive P (RP) retention by damming will take place in Asia and South America, especially in the Yangtze, Mekong, and Amazon drainage basins. Despite the large P retention capacity of reservoirs, the export of RP from watersheds will continue to grow unless additional measures are taken to curb anthropogenic P emissions.

Concepts: Water pollution, River, Drainage basin, Dam, Flood, Reservoir, Levee, Watermill


Pastoralism is a major agricultural activity in drier environments, and can directly and indirectly impact native species in those areas. We investigated how the supply of an artificial watering point to support grazing livestock affected movement and activity patterns of the Australian sleepy lizard (Tiliqua rugosa) during a drought year. We observed 23 adult lizards; six had access to a dam, whereas 17 lizards did not. Lizards with access to the dam had larger home ranges, were substantially active on more days (days with >100 steps), and moved more steps per day compared to lizards that did not have access to the dam, both during the early and late period of our observation. Furthermore, while the two groups of lizards had similar body condition early in the season, they differed later in the season. Lizards with dam access retained, whereas lizards without access lost body condition. Local heterogeneity in access to an artificial water resource resulted in spatially dependent behavioural variation among sleepy lizard individuals. This suggests that sleepy lizards have flexible responses to changing climatic conditions, depending on the availability of water. Furthermore, while reducing activity appears a suitable short term strategy, if harsh conditions persist, then access to dams could be of substantial benefit and could support sustained lizard activity and movement and allow maintenance of body condition. Hence, artificial watering points, such as the dams constructed by pastoralists, may provide local higher quality refugia for sleepy lizards and other species during drought conditions.

Concepts: Agriculture, Water, Climate, Livestock, Tiliqua rugosa, Blue-tongued skink, Lizard, Reservoir


Inland waters transport and transform substantial amounts of carbon and account for ~18% of global methane emissions. Large reservoirs with higher areal methane release rates than natural waters contribute significantly to freshwater emissions. However, there are millions of small dams worldwide that receive and trap high loads of organic carbon and can therefore potentially emit significant amounts of methane to the atmosphere. We evaluated the effect of damming on methane emissions in a central European impounded river. Direct comparison of riverine and reservoir reaches, where sedimentation in the latter is increased due to trapping by dams, revealed that the reservoir reaches are the major source of methane emissions (~ 0.23 mmol CH4 m(-2) d(-1) vs. ~19.7 mmol CH4 m(-2) d(-1) respectively), and that areal emission rates far exceed previous estimates for temperate reservoirs or rivers. We show that sediment accumulation correlates with methane production and subsequent ebullitive release rates and may therefore be an excellent proxy for estimating methane emissions from small reservoirs. Our results suggest that sedimentation-driven methane emissions from dammed river hotspot sites can potentially increase global freshwater emissions by up to 7%.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, River, Methane, Dam, Canal, Flood, Reservoir, Levee


Using remote sensing images, we provided the first complete picture of freshwater bodies in mainland China. We mapped 89,700 reservoirs, covering about 26,870 km(2) and approximately 185,000 lakes with a surface area of about 82,232 km(2). Despite relatively small surface area, the total estimated storage capacity of reservoirs (794 km(3)) is triple that of lakes (268 km(3)). Further analysis indicates that reservoir construction has made the river systems strongly regulated: only 6% of the assessed river basins are free-flowing; 20% of assessed river basins have enough cumulative reservoir capacity to store more than the entire annual river flow. Despite the existence of 2,721 lakes greater than 1 km(2), we found that about 50 lakes greater than km(2) have formed on the Tibetan Plateau resulting from climate change. More than 350 lakes of ≥1 km(2) vanished in four other major lake regions. Although the disappearance of lakes happened in the context of global climate change, it principally reflects the severe anthropogenic impacts on natural lakes, such as, the excessive plundering of water resources on the Inner Mongolia-Xinjiang Plateau and serious destruction (land reclamation and urbanization) on the eastern plains.

Concepts: Lake, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Drainage basin, Solar variation, Remote sensing, Reservoir


The Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan resulted in the deposition of radiocesium over forested and rural landscapes northwest of the power plant. Although there have been several investigations into the dynamics of contaminated river sediment, less attention has been paid to the sources of deposited particulate matter in dams and reservoirs. In the Fukushima Prefecture, there are 10 significant dams and over a 1000 reservoirs for both agricultural and surface water management. These reservoirs may have trapped a significant volume of radiocesium-contaminated sediment. Therefore, characterizing the sources of contaminated particulate matter is important for the ongoing management of contamination in the region. Accordingly, the composition of particulate matter deposited in the Mano Dam reservoir, approximately 40km northwest of the power plant, was investigated with the analyses and modelling of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios (δ(13)C and δ(15)N), total organic carbon (TOC) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations. Four sediment cores, with lengths ranging 29-41cm, were sampled in the Mano Dam. Source samples from 46 forest soils, 28 cultivated soils and 25 subsoils were used to determine the source contributions of particulate matter. Carbon and nitrogen parameters were analyzed on all samples and a concentration-dependent distribution modelling approach was used to apportion source contributions. Three of the four cores sampled in the Mano Dam reservoir had distinct radiocesium peaks representative of the initial post-accident wash-off phase. Cultivated sources were responsible for 48±7% of the deposited fine particulate matter whereas forests were modelled to contribute 27±6% and subsoil sources 25±4%. Ongoing decontamination of cultivated sources in the Fukushima region should result in a decrease of contaminated matter deposition in reservoirs.

Concepts: Agriculture, Drainage basin, Dam, Reservoir, Drought, Lake Nasser, Reservoirs


Although the impacts of large dams on freshwater biota are relatively well known, the effects of small hydropower plants (SHP) are not well investigated. In this work, we studied if mercury (Hg) concentrations in fish rise in two tropical SHP reservoirs, and whether similar effects take place during impoundment. Total Hg concentrations in several fish species were determined at two SHP in the Upper Guaporé River basin floodplain, Brazil. In total, 185 specimens were analysed for Hg content in dorsal muscle and none of them reported levels above the safety limit (500 μg kg(-1)) for fish consumption recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The highest levels of Hg (231 and 447 μg kg(-1)) were found in carnivorous species in both reservoirs. Mercury increased as a function of standard length in most of the fish populations in the reservoirs, and higher Hg concentrations were found in fish at the reservoir compared with fish downstream. The high dissolved oxygen concentrations and high transparency of the water column (i.e. oligotrophic reservoir) together with the absence of thermal stratification may explain low Hg methylation and low MeHg levels found in fish after flooding. Overall, according to limnological characteristics of water, we may hypothesise that reservoir conditions are not favourable to high net Hg methylation.

Concepts: Life, Water, Hydrology, River, Drainage basin, Dam, Aquatic ecology, Reservoir


This study discusses the climatological aspects of the most severe drought ever recorded in the semiarid region Northeast Brazil. Droughts are recurrent in the region and while El Nino has driven some of these events others are more dependent on the tropical North Atlantic sea surface temperature fields. The drought affecting this region during the last 5 years shows an intensity and impact not seen in several decades in the regional economy and society. The analysis of this event using drought indicators as well as meteorological fields shows that since the middle 1990s to 2016, 16 out of 25 years experienced rainfall below normal. This suggests that the recent drought may have in fact started in the middle-late 1990s, with the intense droughts of 1993 and 1998, and then the sequence of dry years (interrupted by relatively wet years in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011) after that may have affected the levels of reservoirs in the region, leading to a real water crisis that was magnified by the negative rainfall anomalies since 2010.

Concepts: Precipitation, Hydrology, Meteorology, Brazil, Tropical cyclone, Water crisis, Reservoir, Drought


Newly built reservoirs are regarded as sensitive ecosystem for mercury (Hg) methylation. A comprehensive study was conducted to understand the influence of damming on the distribution and methylation of Hg within a river-reservoir ecosystem in Wujiang River Basin (WRB), Southwest China. Hg species in inflow-outflow rivers of six cascade reservoirs were analyzed each month during 2006. Mean concentrations of total Hg (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) in river water in WRB were 3.41 ± 1.98 ng L(-1) and 0.15 ± 0.06 ng L(-1), respectively. THg and particulate Hg (PHg) concentrations in outflow rivers of reservoirs significantly decreased after dam construction, suggesting that a considerable amount of PHg was intercepted by way of sedimentation. However, the influence of damming on the distributions of dissolved Hg (DHg) and reactive Hg (RHg) in rivers was less pronounced. MeHg concentrations in outflow rivers of the older reservoirs significantly increased compared to inflow rivers with the maximum increasing factor of 92%, indicating the active net Hg methylation in the reservoirs. However, the difference between MeHg in inflow rivers and outflow rivers were less pronounced in the newly constructed reservoirs, indicating that these reservoirs were not active sites of Hg methylation. The construction of the cascade reservoirs resulted in the elevation of MeHg in several sections of the Wujiang River, which attributed to the net Hg methylation in reservoirs and discharge of MeHg from hypolimnion. MeHg-enriched water in outflow rivers from hypolimnetic water could be transported to downstream, posing potential threat to the aquatic food web and human health.

Concepts: Hydrology, River, Drainage basin, Dam, Flood, Reservoir, Geomorphology, Levee