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Numerical Modeling of Sediment Transport and Its Effect on Algal Biomass Distribution in Lake Pontchartrain Due to Flood Release from Bonnet Carré Spillway

DOI: 10.4236/gep.2016.49006, PP. 64-79

Keywords: 2D Numerical Model, Flow Circulation, Sediment Transport, Algal Bloom, Bonnet Carré Spillway, Lake Pontchartrain

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Abstract:

In order to protect the city of New Orleans from the Mississippi River flooding, the Bonnet Carré Spillway (BCS) was constructed from 1929 to 1936 to divert flood water from the river into Lake Pontchartrain and then into the Gulf of Mexico. During the BCS opening for flood release, large amounts of freshwater, nutrients, sediment, etc. were discharged into Lake Pontchartrain, and caused a lot of environmental problems. To evaluate the environmental impacts of the flood water on lake ecosystems, a two-dimensional numerical model was developed based on CCHE2D and applied to simulate the flow circulation, sediment transport and algal biomass distribution in Lake Pontchartrain. The effect of sediment concentration on the growth of algae was considered in the model. The numerical model was calibrated using field measured data provided by USGS, and then it was validated by the BCS Opening Event in 1997. The simulated results were generally in good agreement with filed data and satellite imagery. The field observation and numerical model show that during the spillway opening for flood release, the sediment concentration is very high, which greatly restricts the growth of algae, so there is no algal bloom observed in the lake. After the closure of BCS, the sediment concentration in the lake reduces gradually, and the nutrient concentration of the lake is still high. Under these conditions, numerical results and satellite imagery showed that the chlorophyll concentration was high and algal bloom might occur.

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