Linking sedimentation and erosion patterns with reservoir morphology and dam operations during streambed drawdowns in a flood-control reservoir in the Oregon Cascades

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Abstract

Since water-year (WY) 2011, pool levels at Fall Creek Lake, Oregon, are temporarily lowered to an elevation near historical streambed each fall, creating free-flowing channel conditions that facilitate downstream passage of juvenile spring Chinook salmon. These drawdown operations have also mobilized substantial quantities of predominantly fine (<2 mm) reservoir sediment as well as some coarser gravels. To assess the potential impact of reservoir sediment erosion and transport on downstream reach morphology and habitats, linkages between reservoir sedimentation in Fall Creek Lake and drawdown-related reservoir erosion are inferred from geomorphic mapping and volumetric change analyses developed from high resolution aerial photographs and digital elevation models of the empty reservoir. Recent and historical drawdown operations have helped maintain a thalweg in much of Fall Creek Lake, constraining most coarse-grained sediment transport and re-deposition, whereas fine-grained deposition has mainly occurred on the former floodplain and lowermost reservoir reaches. Fine-grained sediment deposits are thickest and bury pre-dam morphology immediately upstream of the dam where they are accessible to fluvial erosion during streambed drawdown operations. Farther from the dam, where pre-dam morphology has not been buried, erosion is limited to sediment accumulation in the reservoir thalweg and minor tributary and ‘drawdown’ channels. In former floodplain regions of the reservoir not adjacent to the thalweg, thicker sediment deposits are inaccessible to fluvial erosion at full streambed drawdown. Altogether, these findings highlight controls on patterns and processes of reservoir erosion during drawdowns. This understanding of long-term sedimentation and streambed-drawdown erosion at Fall Creek Lake allows better evaluation and anticipation of the timing, magnitude, and sediment characteristics delivered to downstream reaches.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Linking sedimentation and erosion patterns with reservoir morphology and dam operations during streambed drawdowns in a flood-control reservoir in the Oregon Cascades
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference (FISC) and Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference (FIHMC)
Contributing office(s) Oregon Water Science Center
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceeding of SEDHYD 2019
Conference Title SEDHYD 2019 Conference
Conference Location Reno, NV
Conference Date June 24-28, 2019
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Fall Creek Lake
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