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Hydrogeology of Volcanic Highlands Affects Prioritization of Land Management Practices

1
Faculty of Civil and Water Resources Engineering, Bahir Dar Institute of Technology, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar 6000, Ethiopia
2
Department of Natural Resource Management, College of Agriculture and Environmental Science, Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar 6000, Ethiopia
3
Amhara Design and Supervision Works Enterprise (ADSWE), Bahir Dar 6000, Ethiopia
4
International Water Management Institute, Addis Ababa 2689, Ethiopia
5
Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(10), 2702; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12102702
Received: 8 August 2020 / Revised: 10 September 2020 / Accepted: 22 September 2020 / Published: 27 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrology and Sedimentology of Hilly and Mountainous Landscapes)
Volcanic highlands supply water to 40% of the world’s population. Soil degradation threatens this water supply. Studies on geohydrology that affect the effectiveness of land and water management (LWM) practices in reducing soil degradations are limited. To aid in the effectiveness of LWM practices, we conducted a field experiment in the Gomit watershed in the semihumid Ethiopian Highlands on the interaction of hydrogeology and LWM practices. We found that in a watershed with strongly faulted tertiary basalt, 30% of the rainfall was drained through faults to another basin. Consequently, the discharge at the outlet was less than half of that of other watersheds with quaternary basalts. Despite the high sediment concentration, i.e., around 15 g L−1, in the Gomit watershed, the sediment yield of less than 4 Mg ha−1 a−1 was below average for the agricultural watershed in Ethiopia because of the low runoff response. While some faults facilitated drainage, others acted as a barrier. Groundwater stored behind the barriers was used as a municipal potable water source. Since the effectiveness of LWM practices depends on the amount of erosion that can be prevented, considerations of country-wide prioritizing of investments in land and water management practices should include the geology of the watersheds. View Full-Text
Keywords: erosion; Ethiopian Highlands; fault; geology; hydrology; land and water management; soil and water conservation; watershed erosion; Ethiopian Highlands; fault; geology; hydrology; land and water management; soil and water conservation; watershed
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Adem, A.A.; Addis, G.G.; Aynalem, D.W.; Tilahun, S.A.; Mekuria, W.; Azeze, M.; Steenhuis, T.S. Hydrogeology of Volcanic Highlands Affects Prioritization of Land Management Practices. Water 2020, 12, 2702.

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