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Reducing Sediment Connectivity Through man‐Made and Natural Sediment Sinks in the Minizr Catchment, Northwest Ethiopia

Mekonnen, Mulatie, Keesstra, Saskia D., Baartman, Jantiene E. M., Stroosnijder, Leo, Maroulis, Jerry
Land degradation & development 2017 v.28 no.2 pp. 708-717
Internet, bunds, floodplains, highlands, pollution load, sediment deposition, sediment transport, sediment traps, sediment yield, sediments, soil, soil erosion, surface area, suspended sediment, sustainable development, vegetated waterways, water conservation, watersheds, wetlands, Ethiopia
Man‐made and natural sediment sinks provide a practical means for reducing downstream reservoir sedimentation by decreasing soil erosion and enhancing the rate of sedimentation within a catchment. The Minizr catchment (20 km²) in the northwest Ethiopian highlands contains numerous man‐made soil and water conservation (SWC) structures such as soil bunds (Erken), fanya juu ridge (Cab) and micro‐trenches and natural sediment sinks such as wetlands, floodplains and grassed waterways. These sediment sinks reduce downstream sedimentation into the Koga reservoir, located at the catchment outlet, however, a large quantity of sediment is still reaching the reservoir. This study evaluates the function and effectiveness of both man‐made SWC structures and natural sediment sinks in reducing sediment export from the Minizr catchment. SWC structures and natural sediment sinks were digitized using Google Earth Imagery. Sediment pins and vertical sampling through the deposit were used to quantify the amount of deposited sediment. In addition, inflow and outflow of suspended sediment data were used to calculate the sediment‐trapping efficacies (STE) of man‐made SWC structures (soil bunds and fanya juu ridges) and natural sediment sinks. Results reveal that 144 km soil bunds and fanya juu ridges trapped 7,920 Mg y⁻¹ (55 kg m⁻¹ y⁻¹) and micro‐trenches trapped 13·26 Mg y⁻¹, each micro‐trench on average trapped 23 kg y⁻¹. The 17 ha floodplain located in the centre of the catchment trapped 9,970 Mg y⁻¹ (59 kg m⁻² y⁻¹), while a wetland with a surface area of 24 ha, located near the outlet of the catchment, trapped 8,715 Mg y⁻¹ (36 kg m⁻² y⁻¹). The STEs of soil bunds and fanya juu ridges, wetlands and floodplains were 54%, 85% and 77%, respectively. Substantial differences were observed between the STE of grassed and un‐grassed waterways at 75% and 21%, respectively. Existing man‐made and natural sediment sinks played an important role in trapping sediment, with 38% (26,600 Mg y⁻¹) of transported sediment being trapped, while 62% (43,000 Mg y⁻¹) is exported from the catchment and thus enters the Koga reservoir. Therefore, additional catchment treatment measures are required as an integrated catchment scale sediment trapping approach to help reduce sediment loads entering Koga reservoir. Moreover, to maximize the effectiveness of sediment trapping measures, avoid structural failure and ensure their sustainability, regular maintenance is needed. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.