Evolution of the Upper Rhone River discharge and suspended sediment load during the last 80 years and some implications for Lake Geneva
- Cite this article as:
- Loizeau, JL. & Dominik, J. Aquat. sci. (2000) 62: 54. doi:10.1007/s000270050075
During this century, the characteristics of the Upper Rhone River discharge, flowing into Lake Geneva, have been altered in response to the changes which have occurred in its watershed. Principally, numerous hydroelectric dams have been constructed on the course of the Rhone River tributaries. At present the major reservoirs can hold about 1220106m3 of water, which represents 1/5 of the total annual Rhone River flow. Flow regime characteristics of the river have been modified by the dam operations. Water is released from reservoirs during winter and stored in summer. Large floods have also been reduced in amplitude and frequency. From the available literature data, sediment rating curves have been calculated and used to estimate the evolution of the sediment load from the Rhone River to Lake Geneva. They show that sediment input has decreased by at least a factor 2. This reduction has impacted the occurrence of underflows along the lake bottom, due to the reduction of sediment-laden floods, which in turn may have considerable negative effects on the reoxygenation of Lake Geneva deep waters.