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What are the effects of sediment buildup in a river basin?

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Quick Answer

Increased flooding, reduced water quality and disruption in wetland ecosystem are the effects sediment buildup in a river basin. Sediment buildup also has negative impacts on man-made infrastructure and water navigation.

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Full Answer

Increased sediment accumulation in a river basin can prevent the river from conveying the quantity of the flowing water, causing floods and subsequently posing risks to human settlements.

Excessive sediment buildup limits light penetration and prohibits healthy plant growth on the river bed. Additionally, it reduces the amount of oxygen needed by various fish species. Eventually, it results in limited biological diversity and the accumulation of toxic matters from industrial and human waste to a level that poses a risk to human health.

The sedimentation of a river can also make it unsuitable for navigation without regular dredging work, and dredging costs money and time.

Aside from the natural ecosystem, man-made infrastructures are also at risk when sediments accumulate excessively on a river basin. The buildup can disrupt pumping water in and out, which affects water-control systems for canals. In a more extreme level, it can cause blockages or inefficiencies in water distribution networks. Sediment buildup also has negative impacts on water treatment plants. Disruption in water treatment can cause serious health problems for human as well as aquatic species.

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