Low flow hydraulics in rivers for environmental applications in South Africa

Jordanova, Angelina Alekseevna
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Implementation of the National Water Act in South Africa requires that an ecological Reserve be determined for all significant resources. The ecological Reserve determination is the estimation of the amount of water required to maintain the system in a particular ecological condition. Because aquatic habitats are defined in terms of local hydraulic variables rather than amounts of water, hydraulic analysis provides a crucial link in relating hydrological conditions and river ecosystem integrity. Over the last decade, considerable effort has been devoted to developing hydraulics for the Reserve determination. The hydraulics needs for Reserve determination are primarily for low flow analysis, and appropriate methods still need to be developed. This thesis deals with hydraulics under low flow conditions. Its emphasis is on developing appropriate methods for describing the hydraulic characteristics of South African rivers under conditions of low discharge, and the influence of vegetation and large bed roughness. The following methods have been developed: · A new equation for prediction of overall flow resistance under large-scale roughness, and a new approach for estimation of intermediate-scale roughness resistance that distinguishes the influences of large and intermediate scale roughness components. · Prediction methods for velocity distributions with large roughness elements. Under low flows, rocks and boulders may control the local velocity and depth distributions. Distributions of velocities and depth are related to rapidly spatially varied flow caused by the boundary geometry rather than flow resistance phenomena. With increasing discharge, the multiple local controls become submerged and the flow tends towards a resistance controlled condition. Available information addressing the distinction between resistance controlled and multiple local controls conditions is limited. This thesis contributes to understanding the transformation between multiple local controls and the resistance controlled conditions. · Practical conveyance prediction methods for three situations pertaining to the occurrence of vegetation in rivers and wetlands. In-channel and riparian vegetation makes an important contribution to the creation of physical habitats for aquatic animals, but also has significant effects on flow resistances that need to be predicted.
Low flow, Flow resistance, Velocity distributions, Vegetation resistance