Recent Initiatives to Manage Sediment in US Reservoirs

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 10:20 AM
David L Wegner, US House of Representatives, Subcommitee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Washington, DC, United States
Sediment has long been either ignored or considered unimportant in the planning and management of federal and state water resources across the United States. All reservoirs trap sediment that had previously been transported downriver to either the ocean or larger bodies of water. The trapping of reservoirs has implications for reservoir longevity and downstream channel geomorphology or ecology. Concerns associated with reservoir sedimentation include the loss of reservoir storage capacity, river channel incisement and degradation downstream from dams, loss of channel capacity downstream, impacts to reservoir and river ecology and water chemistry, and impacts to cultureal resources and municipal water supplies. Climate change with resulting impacts to hydrologic and sediment dynamics could have profound management implications for water agencies. To date, little effort has been made by the federal water management agencies to include reservoir sedimentation in their planning or operational considerations. In recent years sediment management in rivers has become more important, especially in the Missouri, Columbia, Snake, Colorado, Mississippi and Susquehanna river systems.