Estimated storage loss (%) by 2050.
Reservoir sedimentation is often seen as a site-specific process and is usually assessed at an individual reservoir level. At the same time, it takes place everywhere in the world. However, estimates of storage losses globally are largely lacking. In this study, earlier proposed estimates of sedimentation rates are applied, for the first time, to 47,403 large dams in 150 countries to estimate cumulative reservoir storage losses at country, regional, and global scales. These losses are estimated for the time horizons of 2022, 2030, and 2050. It is shown that 6316 billion m3 of initial global storage in these dams will decline to 4665 billion m3 causing a 26% storage loss by 2050. By now, major regions of the world have already lost 13–19% of their initially available water storage. Asia-Pacific and African regions will likely experience relatively smaller storage losses in the next 25+ years compared to the Americas or Europe. On a country level, Seychelles, Japan, Ireland, Panama, and the United Kingdom will experience the highest water storage losses by 2050, ranging between 35% and 50%. In contrast, Bhutan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Niger will be the five least affected countries losing less than 15% of storage by 2050. The decrease in the available storage by 2050 in all countries and regions will challenge many aspects of national economies, including irrigation, power generation, and water supply. The newly built dams will not be able to offset storage losses to sedimentation. The paper is an alert to this creeping global water challenge with potentially significant development implications.
Perera, D., Williams, S., & Smakhtin, V. (2022). Present and Future Losses of Storage in Large Reservoirs Due to Sedimentation: A Country-Wise Global Assessment. Sustainability, 15(1), 219. MDPI AG. Doi: 10.3390/su15010219
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