By Hugh A. Tilson (Editor)
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Extra info for Environmental Health Perspectives - March 2011
Flow is often critical or supercritical, and the river has a high sediment transport capacity. It is also capable of transporting virtually all sediment sizes delivered both from landslides and the mine. For most of its length, the river behaves as a source zone system, transporting a large quantity of delivered sediment. Some of this sediment breaks down into ﬁner particles during transit. Most of the deposition in the Upper Ok Tedi is actually bed material in transit and can be expected to pass downstream fairly quickly, especially in the steep upper reaches.
On the Middle Fly, there is deposition down to the start of the backwater zone close to the 180 km point and then substantial ﬂuctuations in bed level. If the survey data are divided into El Nin˜o/wet period conditions and closer-to-average ﬂow conditions, two different patterns emerge. Between 1997 and 1999, sediment supply to the Middle Fly was reduced by low ﬂows in the Ok Tedi and interruptions to mine operations. 18: Change in channel area with time for the Middle Fly River. Areas were calculated for a ﬁxed reference level set as the lowest observed bankfull stage in each cross section.
Impact of dredging Future behavior of the Lower Ok Tedi largely depends on whether current dredging operation continues. Without dredging, the pre-1998 trends would continue, suggesting perhaps 2 m of additional deposition in the upper section near Ningerum, rising to 4–6 m in the riverbed at Konkonda and 2–4 m in the reach between Atkamba and D’Albertis Junction by 2010. This would mean: Channel widening throughout the reach upstream of the Konkonda meander. Extensive ﬂoodplain deposition in that reach but especially around Bige.