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Runoff change and sediment source during rainstorms in an ecologically constructed watershed on the Loess Plateau, China

Li, Peng, Xu, Guoce, Lu, Kexin, Zhang, Xiaoming, Shi, Peng, Bai, Lulu, Ren, Zongping, Pang, Guowei, Xiao, Lie, Gao, Haidong, Pan, Minghang
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.664 pp. 968-974
agricultural land, hills, hydrologic models, rain, runoff, sediment deposition, sediment yield, sediments, soil erosion, statistical models, storms, topographic slope, vegetation, watersheds, China
The sediment-reducing effect of check dams and the safety issues following dam breaks are long-standing concerns. This study analyzed the runoff change and sediment source during rainstorms in a small watershed using a multivariate mixed model and a comparative analysis of watersheds. The problem of sediment loss from dammed farmland following check dam break during rainstorms was evaluated. The results showed that the flood peak lag time (PLT) was significantly influenced by pre-soil moisture in cases of small amounts of rainfall but not during rainstorms. Ecological construction significantly reduced the linear correlation between rainfall and runoff modulus (RM). The reduction in sediment delivery modulus (SDM) due to the check dam was more significant than that in RM. The reduction in RM and SDM under rainstorm conditions were 16%–74% and 53%–93%, respectively. The contributions of inter-gully and gully lands to the sediment deposited in dammed farmland during a large rainstorm on July 26, 2017 were 38.07% and 61.93%, respectively. Soil erosion remained significant during large rainstorms. The increase in vegetation coverage on the hill slope increased the amount of sediment from gully lands. Check dam breaches have accounted for a loss of only 1.2% of the total area of the dammed farmland, and thus have not caused a large loss of sediment. However, breaches in them clearly increased the coefficient of variation of RM and SDM. Therefore, check dams have a critical effect on controlling sediment delivery at the watershed scale. Dam breaks do not result in a large percentage of sediment loss in the dammed farmland.