“Hydropeaking“ in rivers and streams is becoming a problem for water ecology, particularly for fish. Rapid change in the release of water from alpine hydroelectric power stations leads to artificial discharge variations on a daily and weekly basis. Of Switzerland’s larger rivers, one in four is influenced by such water surges. Together with the wide-spread river training and channelisation, such intermittent flow is one of the main causes for the biological deficits that can be observed, for example, in the valleys of the Rhone. The success of revitalisation measures necessary in channelled waters depends on many factors but it may be put into question if the reduction of such surges is not considered.
The Rhone-Thur project is being carried out by the research institutes Eawag and WSL as well as by the hydrology institutes at the ETH in Zurich and the EPFL in Lausanne. The results concerning hydropeaking are now available. The rapid increase and ebbing away of water in riverbeds as a consequence of the use of hydropower has a distinct influence on ecological entegrity in addition to the river morphology deficits.
Andri Bryner | alfa
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