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Implementation of Strategies for the Management of Dams with Sedimented Reservoirs


Dams accumulate sediment by interrupting the continuity of rivers, resulting in a loss of reservoir water storage capacity and decreased productive life. These issues raise a growing concern about the decreasing benefits of projects. This paper contributes to the implementation of sediment transit strategies and operating rules of reservoirs to reduce overflows and recover the technical–economic viability of sedimented reservoirs by maintaining ecological flow. The main difficulty lies in the fact that sedimentation of the reservoir limits the mobility of dredging equipment and blocks the intake. To regain the viability of the reservoir, the commonly used strategies to manage water resources and reservoir sedimentation were analyzed. To control reservoir sedimentation and restore the generation capacity, different sediment management strategies were implemented and evaluated at the entrance, body of the reservoir and intake; these strategies included reduction of the entry of sediments, restoration of the storage capacity, clearing of the water intake for the turbines to restore power generation, trash rack cleaning during the power generation process and modification of the hydroelectric power plant operating rules to optimize the economic income. The implemented strategies successfully reduced overflows from 88 to 40% in 3 years and stabilized the reservoir storage capacity by balancing the inflow and removal of sediments. Although the water intake for the turbines was cleaned, accumulation increased in other areas of the reservoir. Finally, root cause analysis (RCA) was employed, and solutions were proposed to increase the capacity of the reservoir and reduce overflows to 15%.

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Data Availability

Data and material are available upon request to the corresponding author.



Faolure mode and effect analysis


Biochemical oxygen demand


Dissolved oxygen


Dredgind capacity (m3/h)


Storage capacity greater than 30%


Storage capacity less than 6% (without sediment transit strategy)


Storage capacity less than 6% (with sediment transit strategy)


Ecological flow


Dredgind (h/year)


Life cycle cost analysis


Mean time between failures


Mean time to repair


Root cause analysis

SAccumulated :

Accumulated sediment mass

Sinflow :

Inflow sediment mass

SOverflows :

Overflows sediment mass

SR :

Sediments removed (m3/year)

STurbine :

Turbine sediment mass


Total dissolved solids


Total organic carbon


Utilization rate


Participation of each equipment in the global balance of sediments removed


Water Quality Index


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No funding was received to assist with the preparation of this manuscript.

Author information




PWCF and CAMV contributed to the study concept and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by PWCF. CAMV has made analysis and validation of data. The first draft of the manuscript was written by PWCF. CAMV commented on previous versions of the manuscript. PWCF and CAMV read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Pedro Wirley Castro or Carlos Alberto Mantilla.

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Castro, P.W., Mantilla, C.A. Implementation of Strategies for the Management of Dams with Sedimented Reservoirs. Water Resour Manage 35, 4399–4413 (2021).

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  • Dam management
  • Dredging
  • Overflows
  • Reservoir sedimentation
  • Water resource management