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Keywords:

  • dam;
  • Gallito Ciego;
  • Jequetepeque;
  • Peru;
  • reservoir;
  • sediment management

Abstract

Gallito Ciego Reservoir, with a surface area of 14.2 km2 and mean depth of 40.3 m, is located in the Jequetepeque River basin in north-western Peru. It is rapidly filling with sediments, endangering its main purpose of supplying agricultural irrigation water. A sediment volume corresponding to 70% of the dead water volume has accumulated in the reservoir up to 2007, with reservoir bottom outlet becoming blocked. Below the dam, 35 000 ha of irrigated cropland, supporting 115 000 habitants, are endangered. This study was conducted to evaluate the possibilities of sediment management, especially the use of the sediment for agricultural purposes in the Jequetepeque River basin. Sediment samples were collected from littoral and profound sites in the reservoir. Suspended sediments also were collected. Physical parameters were investigated, and the nutrient and heavy metal concentrations were determined. By comparing grain-size distribution and nutrient content, as well as pollutant concentration of the sediments, to those of terrestrial soils near the reservoir, an assessment of the potential for applying the sediments on the cropland was undertaken. Texture investigations of profound sediments revealed a strong grain-size classification within the reservoir. Because the heavy metal concentrations in the sediments were below toxic thresholds, and the concentrations of nutrients also were low, using the sediments for agricultural purposes would not constitute risks, although they cannot replace fertilizer. As a soil amendment and building material, the sediments do have an economical value. Its dredging and use, however, must be seen as only one component of more holistic sediment management of the Jequetepeque Watershed.