Hydropower plants affect the distribution and composition of sediments. The main aim of this study was to analyze the spatial distribution of sediment pollution in the vicinity of a small hydropower plant. The grain composition of the sediments, the content of heavy metals (Cu, Ni, Cr, Zn, Pb, and Cd) and select physicochemical properties (pH, electrolytic conductivity) were tested at 14 points upstream and downstream of the hydropower plant on the Ślęza River in Poland, as well as at reference point. The interactions between the tested parameters were also verified. The results of the conducted analysis show that hydropower plants significantly affect the composition and properties of sediments. Large amounts of sediment are deposited on damming weirs, accumulating heavy metals and other substances. The differences in the concentrations of elements were significant, and Cu, Ni, Cr, Zn and Pb were 8.74, 9.53, 3.63, 8.26 and 6.33 times higher, respectively, than the median value at points upstream of the hydropower plant than downstream. It was shown that the tested parameters of the sediments interact with each other and are correlated; heavy metals showed a synergistic effect, while other parameters configurations showed an antagonistic effect. The higher content of heavy metals upstream of the hydropower plant resulted from the presence of finer sediment—classified as silt—in this section. Downstream of the hydropower plant, there were mainly sands, which showed a lower ability to absorb substances. This work contributes to improving the rational management of the worldwide issue of sediments within dams located in river valleys. Moreover, it is in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations, particularly in the fields of clean water and sanitation, clean and available energy, and responsible consumption and production.
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