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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 3 (2014 Deadline)

Sediment transport evaluation on the Bengawan Solo River (downstream and estuary) to minimize sedimentation and flood combining effect on nearby infrastructure

PI:  Ria Asih Aryani Soemitro ( and co-PI Dwa Desa Warnana, Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS)
U.S. Partner: Gangfeng Ma, Old Dominion University
Project Dates: November 2014 to May 2018
Excessive upstream to downstream land-use and deforestation, as well as downstream local sand mining along Indonesian rivers, which started in the 1990’s, triggered significant river surface runoff and flow increases, unbalanced sedimentation, aggradations, and degradation. These interacting effects resulted in unpredictable changes of river morphology, leading to flooding and infrastructure instability problems in most Indonesian rivers. Considering the serious impact of flooding and infrastructure damage, river sedimentation problem research is necessary in order to furnish preliminary assessment guidance for river channel capacity normalization and estuary management to prevent estuary aggradations. The novelty of this proposed research is to develop a more accurate river discharge flow calculation and estuary sedimentation prediction and analysis, taking into account river morphology changes based on thorough and meticulous sedimentation process investigation.

Without a comprehensive detailed knowledge of sediment transport and the sea water tidal processes, it would be impossible to analyze downstream river and estuary morphology changes accurately. The research team of this project will focus on the Bengawan Solo River by taking into account river morphology. Collaboration with the U.S. partner is expected to strengthen the Indonesian team’s ability to better predict and analyze the estuary sedimentation problems and analytically predict downstream and estuary flooding, infrastructure failure, and channel port aggradation due to changes in river morphology. The research project results will be disseminated to the East Java Ministry of Public Works to provide preliminary assessment guidance for river channel capacity normalization and estuary management to prevent estuary aggradations. Collaboration between the Indonesian team and the U.S. partner is aimed at promoting knowledge transfer, training, and advancement for Indonesian researchers.
3-082 Cattle near Embankment3-82 Bathymetry Survey3-82 Hydrology Survey
Local cattle graze near the banks of a river after floodwaters have receded (photo courtesy of Dr. Soemitro).The team conducts hydrology and bathymetry surveys in a variety of conditions (photo courtesy of Dr. Soemitro).

Summary of Recent Activities

With work on her original PEER project largely complete, Dr. Soemitro and her colleagues are further discussing and disseminating their research results and proposed regulatory codes to the Indonesian Government, thanks to a PEER Evidence to Action Supplement awarded in May 2017. This supplemental activity involves the provision of technical advice and organization of a workshop and site visits along the Sumbawa River, which was the site of devastating flooding in 2016. A short course and meetings with lecturers from the Universitas Teknologi Sumbawa was held September 18-27, 2017. Workshop participants agreed to conduct the following activities in the coming months: (1) gathering data on river and embankment characteristics on the Sumbawa River; (2) refining the preliminary discussion of methods and alternatives for minimizing sedimentation and flood combining effects on the nearby infrastructure along the Sumbawa River; and (3) creating research collaboration between institutions (Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember and Universitas Teknologi Sumbawa) to maintain a sustainable research program.

The PI and her team also took part in private meetings with various government agencies in August and September, including the Research Center for Water Resources, the Coastal Research Center, and the Directorate General of Water Resources, all units under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing. The government is considering the team’s proposed codes, and if they agree, a preliminary pilot project would be discussed with stakeholders. Therefore, in the near future, an advanced coordination effort is planned with the Bengawan Solo river authority.

The PI and her colleagues recently had their first paper on their PEER-supported work accepted for publication. It is entitled “Change of Soil Properties in the Bengawan Solo River Embankment Due to Drying–Wetting Cycles,” and it appears in the Geotechnical Engineering Journal of the SEAGS & AGSSEA, vol. 48, no. 4, December 2017 ISSN 0046- 5828. It illustrates the vulnerability of soil characteristics of the Bengawan Solo River embankment due to the drying-wetting cycle as a function of the dry and rainy seasons. The paper outlines how the change of soil properties has a specific pattern that can be estimated through laboratory and field investigations. A second manuscript, on sediment properties and dredging on the Bengawan Solo, was submitted in December 2017 to the International Journal of River Basin Management.

Planned activities for early 2018 include meetings between the PEER researchers and officials from two key government agencies: (1) Balai Besar Wilayah Sungai Bengawan, Directorate General of Water Resources, Ministry of Public Works and Housing; and (2) Balai Pantai, Directorate General of Water Resources, Ministry of Public Works and Housing. They will also meet with their counterpart researchers from the Universitas Teknologi Sumbawa. In addition, Dr. Soemitro is planning a research visit to her U.S. partner Prof. Gangfeng Ma, with the dates still to be determined.

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