Main content area

Benthic macroinvertebrates response to water management in a lowland river: effects of hydro-power vs irrigation off-stream diversions

Salmaso, Francesca, Crosa, Giuseppe, Espa, Paolo, Gentili, Gaetano, Quadroni, Silvia, Zaccara, Serena
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2018 v.190 no.1 pp. 33
Chironomidae, benthic organisms, community structure, environmental protection, irrigation, macroinvertebrates, multivoltine habit, physicochemical properties, point source pollution, rivers, stream flow, summer, surveys, univoltine habit, water management, water power, winter, Italy
An eco-hydraulic survey of the highly regulated Adda River (northern Italy) was carried out to highlight the ecological implications of the current water management, including minimum flows (MFs) set as environmental protection measures. Macroinvertebrates, flows, and other main physico-chemical parameters were monitored from 2010 to 2012 at seven sites located in two river reaches characterized by different water abstraction schemes. In the upper part of the river, water is mainly diverted for hydro-power, and, in water-depleted reaches, discharges equalled MF for more than 100 days y⁻¹, mainly during winter. In the downstream river reach, where irrigation use prevails, discharges were on average three times higher than in the upper part of the river, and flow values similar to MF were detected only for short periods during summer. The two resulting streamflow patterns seem to have shaped different benthic communities, superimposing to the natural downstream variation. The upper reach is characterized by univoltine taxa, while the lower reach by multivoltine taxa adapted to a more disturbed environment. Chironomidae, a well-known tolerant benthic family, dominated at a site affected by point-source pollution, which turned out to be another determinant of macroinvertebrate community. Despite these differences among sites in the benthic community structure, the current water management seems to allow, for all of the investigated river sites, the achievement of the good ecological status as defined by the local law set in accomplishment of the Water Framework Directive.