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Modeling flood dynamics in a temporary river draining to an eutrophic reservoir in southeast Portugal

Brito, David, Neves, Ramiro, Branco, Maria A., Gonçalves, Maria C., Ramos, Tiago B.
Environmental earth sciences 2017 v.76 no.10 pp. 377
Cyanobacteria, eutrophication, floods, hydrologic models, nutrient content, organic compounds, particulates, permeability, riparian areas, rivers, runoff, simulation models, soil water, watersheds, winter, Portugal
Enxoé is a small temporary river with a flushy regime, which flash floods carry significant loads to the reservoir. As a result, the reservoir, which supplies 25,000 inhabitants, exhibits a high trophic state and cyanobacteria blooms since its construction in 1998, with water abstractions requiring extensive treatment. This study aimed to understand the contribution of flash floods to the Enxoé’s reservoir high trophic state using a modeling approach. This was the first time the river was monitored and that a modeling study was carried out. The MOHID-Land model was implemented to assess the water path in the catchment, and was integrated with field data to compute river loads. Results confirmed the importance of flash events. During flash floods, water properties were determined by soil surface and river bottom wash out, and depended mostly on the flush sequence and intensity. Model simulations showed that soil surface permeability reduction was an important factor regulating surface runoff while soil moisture was low. The first flood after the dry period contributed to 2% of the yearly discharge, 3% of yearly N load, and 7% of the yearly P loads. Winter floods contribution differed, producing 10% of both yearly discharge and loads. However, concentration of particulate matter and organic compounds in the first flood were one order of magnitude higher than in winter floods. This was due to river bottom resuspension and erosion of riparian areas, representative dynamics of a flushy regime. During subsequent winter floods, nutrient concentrations tended to remain constant as the watershed surface and respective soils were washed. Further work should link a watershed model to a reservoir model to depict the flood impact in the reservoir, and test management strategies to reduce the reservoir trophic state.