Sustainability of Water Reservoirs: from an exhaustible into a renewable resource

IHE Delft Hydrology

Target Audience

This short course aims at professionals in the water sector with interest on water storage for multi-purposes, with a basic background on hydraulics and hydrology, and basic knowledge about water storage infrastructures.


Of the two principal natural fresh water supply sources on earth (ground and surface water) research has shown that surface water, principally river water, has the greatest potential for sustainable development. To reliably supply fresh water from rivers, which is essential for the health and welfare of civilizations, it is necessary to provide reservoir water storage through the construction of dams. Climate change increases the need for reservoir storage.

All reservoirs are subject to sedimentation, which reduces their storage volume. The current global net decline in storage due to sedimentation threatens domestic water supply, food and power production, and the ability to mitigate floods.

In this course we will address state-of-the-art and the main scientific advances in terms of prevention and mitigation measures against sedimentation in reservoirs. The principle of exhaustible resources in the economic analysis of reservoirs will be introduced. Emerging research methodologies to study sedimentation processes under global climate change will be discussed. Best practices and modelling examples of practical cases will be provided as well as a check list regarding sediment management for reservoirs owners.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
- To introduce the concept of sustainable development of dams and reservoirs
- To introduce the economic principles of exhaustible resources and how to apply it to ensure sustainable development of reservoirs
- To know how to quantify sediment yield
- To know mitigation measures against reservoir sedimentation
- To know modelling approaches
- To learn from case study examples
- To learn how to structure and guide a technical team to advance sustainable development of reservoirs