Impacts of small scale flow regulation on sediment dynamics in an ecologically important upland river

E. Quinlan, C. N. Gibbins, R. J. Batalla, D. Vericat

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Flow regulation is widely recognized as affecting fluvial processes and river ecosystems. Most impact assessments have focused on large dams and major water transfer schemes, so relatively little is known about the impacts of smaller dams, weirs and water diversions. This paper assesses sediment dynamics in an upland river (the Ehen, NW England) whose flows are regulated by a small weir and tributary diversion. The river is important ecologically due to the presence of the endangered freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera, a species known to be sensitive to sedimentary conditions. Fine sediment yield for the 300-m long study reach was estimated to be 0.057 t km−2 year−1, a very low value relative to other upland UK rivers. Mean in-channel storage of fine sediment was also low, estimated at an average of around 40 g m−2. Although the study period was characterized by frequent high flow events, little movement of coarser bed material was observed. Data therefore indicate an extremely stable fluvial system within the study reach. The implication of this stability for pearl mussels is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-686
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number3
Early online date21 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by the Environment Agency (UK), whose support we gratefully acknowledge. We particularly thank Jane Atkins and Gail Butterill of the Environment Agency for their help and support. The fourth author has a Ramon y Cajal Fellowship (RYC-2010-06264) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Authors acknowledge the support from the
Economy and Knowledge Department of the Catalan Government through the Consolidated Research Group 2014 SGR 645 (RIUS Fluvial Dynamics Research Group).


  • flow regulation
  • sediment transport
  • in-channel sediment storage
  • bed disturbance
  • sediment supply
  • Margaritifera margaritifera
  • River Ehern


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