Information on sediment concentration in rivers is important for the design and management of reservoirs. In this paper, river sediment flux and siltation rate of a rift valley lake basin (Lake Ziway, Ethiopia) was modeled using suspended sediment concentration (SSC) samples from four rivers and lake outlet stations. Both linear and non-linear least squares log–log regression methods were used to develop the model. The best-fit model was tested and evaluated qualitatively by time-series plots, quantitatively by using watershed model evaluation statistics, and validated by calculating the prediction error. Sediment yield (SY) of ungauged rivers were assessed by developing and using a model that includes catchment area, slope, and rainfall, whereas bedload was estimated. As a result, the gross annual SY transported into the lake was 2.081 Mton/year. Annually, 0.178 Mton/year of sediment is deposited in floodplains with a sediment trapping rate of 20.6%, and 41,340 ton/year of sediment leaves the lake through the Bulbula River. The annual sediment deposition in the lake is 2.039 Mton/year with a mean sediment trapping efficiency of 98%. Based on the established sediment budget with average rainfall, the lake will lose its volume by 0.106% annually and the lifetime of Lake Ziway will be 947 years. The results show that the approach used can be replicated at other similar ungauged watersheds. As one of the most important sources of water for irrigation in the country, the results can be used for planning and implementing a lake basin management program targeting upstream soil erosion control.
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