Effects of an upland impoundment on structural and functional properties of a small stream in a basaltic plateau (golan heights, Israel)



The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of an upland storage reservoir, typical of the series of reservoirs in the Golan Heights basaltic plateau, on structural and functional properties of the downstream ecosystem, in the vicinity of the reservoir, shortly after damming.

The effect of impoundment on water quality conditions may be divided into winter-spring, and summer periods. In the former, the impoundment seems to lengthen the period of flow of runoff quality water. This is evident by the elevated winter and spring turbidities and the higher concentrations of suspended solids below the reservoir. In summer, water quality below the reservoir is controlled by the consequences of stratification in the reservoir. The hypolimnial release results in depression of the maximal temperature and narrowing of the daily and seasonal temperature variations. It supplies water enriched in nutrients and low in oxygen, suspended solids and turbidity. The macroinvertebrate community responds to impoundment in density changes and shifting of dominance. We hypothesize that the thermal effect of hypolimnial release from warm monomictic reservoirs on the invertebrate community of warm streams will differ from an equivalent thermal change caused by cold dimictic reservoirs in cold, temperate zone, streams.

The effect of impoundment on functional properties of the ecosystem are most pronounced. The rate of production of benthic algae biomass below the reservoir increased by more than two orders of magnitude, but the effect diminished downstream. The rate of processing of plant material below the reservoir was lower than above the reservoir. Further investigation is needed to clarify this effect. Changes in reservoir operation are recommended to diminish the effects of impoundment.