Hydrologic and hydraulic modelling of the Nyl River floodplain Part 3: Applications to assess ecological impact
Centre for Water in the Environment, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Streamflow Solutions cc, East London, South Africa
The ecological functioning of the Nyl River floodplain in the Limpopo Province of South Africa depends on water supplied by catchments which are experiencing continuing water resource development. Hydrological and hydraulic models have been produced to assist in future planning by simulating the effects of developments on ecologically relevant flooding characteristics. The models are applied here to predict the impacts of different development scenarios on the areal extent of suitable habitat for a key species, the Wild Rice (Oryza longistaminata), which can be characterised in terms of the depth, duration and timing of flood events. The results show that historical developments in the contributing catchments have already significantly reduced the area suitable for Wild Rice growth, particularly in relatively dry years, and increased the likely dry period between flooding events. Dam construction on one of the tributaries would reduce the suitable area further in dry to average years and increase the inter-event dry period. Careful dam operation could ameliorate impacts in very dry years, however.
Ecology; Environmental impact; Hydraulic models; Hydraulics; Hydrology; Mathematical models; Wetlands; Hydroecology; River floodplain; Wetland modeling; Rivers; Ecology; Environmental impact; Hydraulic models; Hydraulics; Hydrology; Mathematical models; Rivers; Wetlands; assessment method; catchment; dam construction; ecological impact; floodplain; flow modeling; hydraulics; hydrological modeling; resource development; water resource; water supply; Africa; Limpopo; Nyl River; South Africa; Southern Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Oryza longistaminata; Zizania