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Side channel dynamics from the perspective of four-years research

Posted at 17/06/2019 by Pepijn van Denderen

Side channels are common river interventions, but how do they develop and how fast do they fill with sediment?

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Pepijn van Denderen

University of Twente

Side channel system of the river Waal near Gameren, one of the case studies of the PhD thesis.

Insights into the important mechanisms

I recently defended my thesis on Side channel dynamics, which is part of the RiverCare program. I studied several side channel systems all over the world (France and USA) and, in detail, a side channel system of the river Waal near Gameren. This gave insight into the mechanisms that are important in estimating the development of side channels. Based on these insights we define three categories of side channels and propose relations that can be used to estimate the development for each of the categories. This can support the design, operation and maintenance of side channel systems.

Field work activities and side channel categories for estimating their development (see full details on the project page).

Fieldwork gave a valuable input

The side channel categories resulted from the combined analysis of available observations on the bed level changes, taking grain size samples of the sediment deposited and modeling the hydrodynamic parameters. In my research proposal, we did not account for field work and for me it was a fully new experience in which I even some of my students enrolled! In the end, the gathered data is a valuable part of my thesis from which we derived the side channels categories. In addition, field work activities took my research closer to practice as it gave me a detailed example of how side channels can develop in the river Waal.

PhD thesis ceremony on April 11th, 2019 explaining the three side channel categories proposed.

What is next?

New side channels are going to be constructed in the next years. The design of a Dutch side channelĀ  is mainly determined by the amount of aggradation in the main channel, which is a result of the discharge withdrawal from the main channel. The aggradation is expected based on analytical and numerical models, but has not yet been observed. After finishing my PhD thesis, I work at the University of Twente in collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat to get a estimation of the aggradation in side channels to get a quantitative estimation of the aggradation in the main channel due to side channel construction.

Last modified: 16/07/2019