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Dam impacts on and restoration of an alluvial river-Rio Grande, New MexicoAuthor(s): Gigi Richard; Pierre Julien
Source: International Journal of Sediment Research. 18(2): 89-96.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionThe impact of construction of dams and reservoirs on alluvial rivers extends both upstream and downstream of the dam. Downstream of dams, both the water and sediment supplies can be altered leading to adjustments in the river channel geometry and ensuing changes in riparian and aquatic habitats. The wealth of pre and post-regulation data on the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico, provides an excellent case study of river regulation, channel adjustments, and restoration efforts. Cochiti Dam was constructed on the main stem of the Rio Grande in 1973 for flood control and sediment retention. Prior to dam construction, the Rio Grande was a wide, sandy braided river. Following dam construction, the downstream channel bed degraded and coarsened to gravel size, and the planform shifted to a more meandering pattern. Ecological implications of the geomorphic changes include detachment of the river from the floodplain, reduced recruitment of riparian cottonwoods, encroachment of non-native saltcedar and Russian olive into the floodplain, and degraded aquatic habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow. Recent restoration strategies include removal of non-native riparian vegetation, mechanical lowering of floodplain areas, and channel widening.
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CitationRichard, Gigi; Julien, Pierre. 2003. Dam impacts on and restoration of an alluvial river-Rio Grande, New Mexico. International Journal of Sediment Research. 18(2): 89-96.
Keywordsriver morphology, effects of dams, Rio Grande
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