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Cumulative effects of cascade hydropower stations on total dissolved gas supersaturation

Ma, Qian, Li, Ran, Feng, Jingjie, Lu, Jingying, Zhou, Qin
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.14 pp. 13536-13547
dissolved gases, environmental impact, fish, gas bubble disease, power plants, risk, rivers, water power
Elevated levels of total dissolved gas (TDG) may occur downstream of dams during the spill process. These high levels would increase the incidence of gas bubble disease in fish and cause severe environmental impacts. With increasing numbers of cascade hydropower stations being built or planned, the cumulative effects of TDG supersaturation are becoming increasingly prominent. The TDG saturation distribution in the downstream reaches of the Jinsha River was studied to investigate the cumulative effects of TDG supersaturation resulting from the cascade hydropower stations. A comparison of the effects of the joint operation and the single operation of two hydropower stations (XLD and XJB) was performed to analyze the risk degree to fish posed by TDG supersaturation. The results showed that water with supersaturated TDG generated at the upstream cascade can be transported to the downstream power station, leading to cumulative TDG supersaturation effects. Compared with the single operation of XJB, the joint operation of both stations produced a much higher TDG saturation downstream of XJB, especially during the non-flood discharge period. Moreover, the duration of high TDG saturation and the lengths of the lethal and sub-lethal areas were much higher in the joint operation scenario, posing a greater threat to fish and severely damaging the environment. This work provides a scientific basis for strategies to reduce TDG supersaturation to the permissible level and minimize the potential risk of supersaturated TDG.