This study assesses the impact of hydroelectric dams on the discharge and total suspended solids (TSS) concentration in the Huong River basin in Vietnam. The analysis is based on hydrologic and sediment transport simulations by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model driven by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42V6 rainfall data, from January 2003 through December 2010. An upstream sub-basin not affected by the hydroelectric dams was used for model calibration. The calibration results indicate good agreement between simulated and observed daily data (0.67 Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency, 0.82 Pearson correlation coefficient). The calibrated model for discharge and TSS simulation is then applied on another major sub-basin and then the whole Huong River basin. The simulation results indicate that dam operation in 2010 decreased downstream discharge during the rainy season by about 35% and augmented it during the dry season by about 226%. The downstream TSS concentration has decreased due to the dam operation but the total sediment loading increased during the dry season and decreased during the rainy season. On average, the dam construction and operation affected the pattern of discharge more than that of the sediment loading. Results indicate that SWAT, driven by remotely sensed inputs, can reasonably simulate discharge and water quality in ungauged or poorly gauged river basins and can be very useful for water resources assessment and climate change impact studies in such basins.
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