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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-147
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-147
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 26 Apr 2019

Research article | 26 Apr 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Investigating the environmental response to water harvesting structures: A field study in Tanzania

Jessica A. Eisma and Venkatesh M. Merwade Jessica A. Eisma and Venkatesh M. Merwade
  • Lyles School of Civil Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47906, USA

Abstract. Sand dams, a popular water harvesting structure employed by rural communities, capture and store water for use during the dry season in arid and semi-arid regions. Most sand dam research has been performed on the ideal sand dam, despite approximately fifty percent of sand dams not functioning as intended. This research involves a year-long, in-depth field study of three sand dams in Tanzania, one of which is essentially non-functioning. The study investigated a sand dam's impact on macroinvertebrate habitat, vegetation, streambank erosion, and the local water table. Surveys of macroinvertebrate assemblage were performed each season. Vegetation surveys were performed every other month, and erosion was recorded semi-monthly. Water table monitoring wells were installed at each sand dam, and measurements were taken twice a day. The study showed that sand dams are not a suitable habitat for macroinvertebrates. The non-functioning sand dam has a thick layer of silt preventing infiltration of rainwater. The functioning sand dams store a significant amount of water, but most is lost to evapotranspiration within a few months of the last rainfall. Unlike the non-functioning sand dam, the functioning sand dams have a positive impact on local vegetation and minimal impact on erosion. Sand dams can increase the water security of a community, but site characteristics and construction methods must be strongly considered to maximize the sand dam's positive impact.

Jessica A. Eisma and Venkatesh M. Merwade
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Status: open (until 21 Jun 2019)
Status: open (until 21 Jun 2019)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Jessica A. Eisma and Venkatesh M. Merwade
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Environmental Response Data for Tanzanian Sand Dams J. A. Eisma and V. M. Merwade https://doi.org/10.4231/GYSC-1X41

Jessica A. Eisma and Venkatesh M. Merwade
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Short summary
Sand dams capture and store water for use during the dry season in rural communities. A year-long field study of three sand dams in Tanzania showed that sand dams are not a suitable habitat for aquatic insects. They capture plenty of water, but most is evaporated during the first few months of the dry season. Sand dams positively impact vegetation and minimally impact erosion. Community water security can be increased by sand dams, but site characteristics and construction are important factors.
Sand dams capture and store water for use during the dry season in rural communities. A...
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