Modeling of river water qualitative changes under Voshmgir dam removal condition, Gorganrud River

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Irrigation and Reclamation Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran



Dam removal is one of the methods of restoring the river ecosystem. The decision to remove a dam is based on the multidisciplinary indicators and the type of dam body and its location, as well as the downstream conditions and the type of dam removal method. In the present study, the removal of the Voshmgir Dam on the Gorganrud River, Iran, was considered, because of the high volume of sediment deposition in the reservoir and the loss of its useful life. Three scenarios were selected for the removal of the dam: 1- complete removal; 2- stepped removal of the spillway; and 3- removal with stable sediments. In the first step, numerical modeling for river morphological changes was performed using the HEC-RAS model for unsteady flows with sediment transport. The erosion and sedimentation processes were simulated in six reaches (from the Voshmgir Dam to the Caspian Sea), with total length of 128 km. The results indicated that the second scenario (stepped removal of the spillway) is the best alternative due to the gradual processes of river-bed changes. In the present research, the two-dimensional hydrodynamic and water quality model CE-QUAL-W2 is used for qualitative modeling of Gorganrud River in three scenarios of dam removal, within 128 km downstream of Vashmgir dam to the Caspian Sea Estuary. Qualitative modeling was performed for the existing conditions of Gorganrud (without removing the Vashmgir dam) at two hydrometric stations of Aqqala (68 km downstream of the Vashmgir dam) and and Basirabad (112 km downstream of Vashmgir Dam), where a set of water level and water-quality data was available for model calibration. Model results are presented in the period of rapid river changes after dam removal up to 60 days. Based on the results of qualitative modeling, the amount of dissolved oxygen (DO) has increased in three scenarios of dam removal in two sections of the river (Aqqala and Basirabad). The amount of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in the first scenario (complete removal) and the second (stepping removal) has increased slightly (less than 10% of the river conditions before removal). In the third scenario (removal with stable deposition), no significant change in BOD occurred. In three scenarios and in both study periods, the pH changed very little in the two periods, before and after the removal of the dam. The total amount of soluble solids (TDS) in the early days of the simulation is equal to or greater than that before removal. The TDS rate is to be decreased by time. The overall results indicated that the second scenario of the dam removal (i.e. stepped removal of the spillway) is the best alternative due to the less impacts on the river-bed changes, and the gradual processes of river-ecosystem rehabilitation.


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