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Cumulative sediment curve for an arid zone reservoir: foum el

kherza (Biskra, Algeria)


Fatima Zohra Tebbi1 Hadda Dridi1 Gregory L. Morris2 Mahdi Kalla1
1

Natural Hazards and Territory Planning Laboratory (LRNAT) Hadj Lakhdar University

Gregory L. Morris Engineering

Abstract
Reservoir sedimentation affects the performance of dams in Algeria from the standpoint
of reservoir capacity for storage. Foum El Kherza reservoir near Biskra Town, Algeria,
is subject to dredging operation with the intent of recovering 70% of its initial storage
capacity of 47 hm3 (million cubic meters). The forecasting of sediment volume trapped in
the reservoir is essential to plan the future use of this resource and to sustain irrigation
for the palm groves characteristic of the region. However, there are currently no sediment
data for predicting sediment inflow based on hydrologic data. Based on earlier study on
cumulative sediment rating curve approach using daily inflows, this paper describes an
optimization of a cumulative trapped sediment curve for the reservoir based on 44 years
of annual water inflows, by using a spreadsheet optimization tool, Microsoft Excel
Solver to calibrate the cumulative sediment load against the cumulative sediment inflow
as documented by eight bathymetric surveys since dam construction.

1. Introduction
Most Algerian dams are subject to high rates of silting, losing nearly 1% of their capacity
each year [2]. However, gauging sites are few and data may not be reliable or continuously
available. Many attempts have been made to estimate sediment yield entering reservoirs
in Algeria. Tixeront [11] established a power relationship between the annual erosion
rate and the annual runoff depth. Remini and Avenard [7] estimated sedimentation of
the Foum El Kherza reservoir as a polynomial function of time. Remini and Hallouche [9]
established two relations giving annual sediment inflows as a function of operational
time, a power function for Maghrebs reservoirs having a high sedimentation rate and
a linear function for those having a low rate. Meddi et al. [5] used data from eighteen
Algerian reservoirs to establish a model of annual sediment inflow as a function of
two parameters, annual inflows and watershed area. Kassoul et al. [4] developed a
classification abacus function model, and Bessenasse et al. [2] applied a bi-dimensional
hydraulic model using Saint-Venant equations and convectiondiffusion model to predict
the evolution of the deposits in Zardezas reservoir.
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In the present study the sediment rating relationship is back-estimated from reservoir
survey data taken at several points in time, plus water inflow data. Based on earlier study
on cumulative sediment rating curve approach using daily inflows [10], The sediment
volume relationship, vs. discharge, is developed by fitting annual Cumulative Trapped
Sediment against the available reservoir sedimentation data.

2. Study area
Foum El Kherza reservoir (also known as El Gherza) is located on the Labiod River near the
Town of Biskra, Algeria. The reservoir receives approximately 0.60 Mm3 of sediment per
year from its 1300 km2 watershed in the southern foothills of Aurs Mountains, which is
characterized by a semi-arid to arid climate, sparse vegetative cover, and high relief. Built
in 1950, it is one of the oldest reservoirs in Algeria but has lost nearly 75 % of its capacity
by sedimentation. Considered a national heritage site and because of its importance
in preserving the regions traditional date palm groves, a dredging operation is being
undertaken to recover 70% of the initial storage capacity of 47 million cubic meters.
Knowledge of the time wise variation in sediment inflows can provide information useful
to analyse and improve future sediment management options.

Figure 1 Foum El Kherza dam location map.

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Table 1: Principal Characteristics of Foum El Kherza dam and its drainage area
Labiod catchment

Foum El Kherza reservoir

Area (km2)

1300

Max altitude (m NGA)

2326

Min altitude (m NGA)

189

Location

Lat.355108N
Long. 55530E

Type

Combined Arc-Gravity

Concentration time (hours)

16

Height (m)

73

Drainage density (km km-2)

3.8

Crest level (m NGA)

203.85

Mean annual rainfall (mm)

230.50

Initial capacity (hm3)

47

Mean sediment yield (hm )

0.6

Impounded in 1950

Mean annual inflows (hm3)

25.90

Actual capacity (hm3)

12.90

last bathymetric survey

2007

Purpose

Irrigation of 300,000
palms
Electricity abandoned

3. Methods
3.1. Data
Annual water inflows computed from a daily reservoir water balance for the period
September 1967 to May 2011 were available from the National Agency for Dams and
water Transfer (ANBT, Biskra) and are shown in (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Annual water inflows to Foum El Kherza reservoir

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Table 2: Descriptive statistics of Annual inflows.

Count

xmean
(hm3)

Sd
(hm3)

xmedian
(hm3)

xmax
(hm3)

xmin
(hm3)

Cv

43

25.90

4.23

17.29

135.63

3.150

27.76

Figure 3 shows the cumulative loss of reservoir capacity documented by seven reservoir
bathymetric surveys performed in 1967, 1975, 1986, 1993, 2001, 2004 and the last one in
2007 immediately following the first tranche of dredging which removed 4 hm3.

Figure 3 Cumulative storage loss at Foum El Kherza reservoir over time.

4. Available methods
4.1. Sediment Rating Curve method.
A sediment rating curve (hereafter SRC) is an empirical relationship between the water
discharge Q (m3s-1) and the sediment concentration C (kg m-3). It is a black box type of
model not directly related to any physical parameters and having a standard form of:

C=aQb

(1)

Coefficients a and b are empirically determined [1] where a represents the sediment
concentration for a discharge of 1.0 m3s-1, and b reflect the concentration or load response
to changes in discharge.

4.2. Bathymetric survey method


Sediment yield from the watershed can be computed from reservoir deposit volume
determined by repeated bathymetric surveys, combined with the deposit mean bulk
density estimated by empirical methods or core samples, and correcting for reservoir
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trap efficiency. Reservoir resurvey data generally represent a more reliable measure
of the long-term basin sediment yield than fluvial gauging stations because they trap
sediment from all events and because bed load, which is frequently not measured at
fluvial sediment stations, is also completely accounted for [6]. Either by contour or range
method, surveys technology has changed significantly over recent decades with the
dramatic increase in the speed of data acquisition and computer system processing [12,3].
The main sources of error in reservoir surveys are related to changes in measurement
methodology (photogrammetry or topographic maps for pre-impoundment, range line
surveys, and computer-assisted contour surveys). Another important source of error is
the mean sediment bulk density, which is usually estimated rather than sampled, which
varies over the area of the reservoir, and which can change from one survey to the next
due to sediment compaction [6].

5. Methodology
5.1. Annual Sediment inflow by rating equation.
Same methodology used in [10] but considering a sediment rating curve relating annual
sediment inflows volume to annual water inflows volume entering Foum El Kherza reservoir
was constructed and calibrated against the curve of cumulative trapped sediment, and
optimized to provide the best fit against the reservoir sedimentation documented by
bathymetric surveys of sediment volume. Because the surveys documented the entire
trapped sediment load, the rating curve will include both suspended and bed material.
The inflowing sediment rating curve was also adjusted to account for reservoir trap
efficiency by the Brune curve (which accounts for flood spills), plus sediment removal by
flushing, spilling and dredging.
The following procedure was used to fit the best cumulative trapped sediment curve
to the available data. First, the 44 years of recorded annual inflows sediment volume

Qs (hm3) was computed as a power function of annual water inflow Q (hm3) using following
equation.

Qs=aQb

(2)

This time series was adjusted by volume of sediment released by specific activities, as
described below. Further, recorded annual flushed (spilled) volumes.

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5.2. Historical sediment inflow time series.


During 43 years of observations six flushing events were reported, typically after each
major flood, with the largest flushing volume being that of 2009.
Lacking data on the Water-Sediment ratio for flushing events at Foum El Kherza reservoir,
this value was taken as 10, considered as a mean value for Algerian dams [8]. Large
spillway overflow events from major floods occurred in 2004, 2005 and 2006. For these
events the Water-Sediment volume ratio is taken as 20.
Dredging started in 2006 and 4 Mm3 had been removed prior to undertaking the
bathymetric survey in July 2007. The dredged sediments were discharged to basins
upstream of the reservoir. The second tranche of the dredging operation had not started
at this writing.
The curve of cumulative sediment accumulation adjusted for the sediment removal
events as computed above, and plotted as a function of time, adjusting for the sediment
removed by the events over all years in the same graph and adding the cumulative
sediment volume removed by flushing, spilling and dredging to the volume remaining in
the reservoir at each survey date.

5.3. Cumulative Trapped Sediment Curve optimization.


The Cumulative Trapped Sediment curve (CTSC) is obtained by summing annual inflows
of sediment overall years Through the Microsoft Excel Solvers graphical user interface
(GUI), we specify cells that contain objective function, constraints and variables and also
Solver options which allow advanced features of resolution and accuracy of the result.
Objective function: Maximization of coefficient of determination calculated between
cumulative trapped sediment volume and bathymetric survey one at the six correspondent
dates (bathymetric survey at 1967 is excluded)
As indicated above, we assume that the power b can take typical values between 1and 2.
The objective function is a nonlinear function, thus, in Microsoft Excel Solvers GUI
options the box assume linear model, is leaved unchecked.

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6. Results and discussion


By applying this methodology, the optimized SRC obtained from the cumulative trapped
sediment one that reflects the observed Foum El Kherza reservoir sedimentation rate is
equal to:

Qs (hm3) = 0.0033Q1.63 (hm3)

(3)

Coefficient of determination R2= 0.96


Performance criteria are tested against the six sedimentation surveys data.

Figure 4 Optimized Cumulative Trapped Sediment Curve (CTSC) at Foum El Kherza reservoir

In their study on the same reservoir, Remini and Avenard concluded that reservoirs
sedimentation evolution is the second-degree polynomial function of time and tend
towards a stabilization which is not the case as the number of flash floods has increased
from 2004 to 2009, with their large sediment loads. Fortunately, sediment spilling was
probably more efficient during the 2004 and 2005 floods because the reservoir was
already full, plus there were beneficial effects from operation of bottom outlet and
dredging. The sediment rating curve approach clearly shows the influence of such events.

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Figure 5 Annual Sediment yield variation estimated from the C T S C

Water Flushed (Spilled) sediment volumes ratios are estimated from observations of
Algerian dams, they can be very different from those of Foum El Kherza and even they
are probably different from one operation to another. However the considered values
are chosen in such a manner to approximate realistic values. Accurate values of these
parameters will certainly improve results.
Power b and intercept a are closely correlated coefficients, such optimization problems
can have more than one solution, thus, constraints that are derived from the natural
learning of the case can help us to keep the closest to reality solution to the problem.

7. Final remarks
Cumulative trapped sediment curve as a combination of the sediment rating curve and
bathymetric surveys methods constitutes a tool to solve constraints imposed by the
lack of gauged data on sediment load. More that it can give more accurate results in
forecasting sediment yield than when applying each method separately. A very interesting
benefit of this approach is that the sediment yield can be estimated at a small time scale
using only water inflows. Thus, highly influential in reservoir operation, updating of the
active reservoir capacity is easily done. The adopted approach can be very interesting for
several reservoirs if more additional measures from reservoir regarding sediment bulk
density, flushed, spilled and dredged Sediment-Water ratios are available.

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Acknowledgments
Grateful acknowledgements are addressed specially for Pr. D.E. Walling and to Dr. L.
Houichi for fruitful discussions. Special thanks go to Mr A. Khmouli from the National
Agency for Dams and water Transfer ANBT (Biskra) for helping us in providing of
complementary and valuable data.

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