For several decades, it has been clear that there are no easy answers to address the sedimentation filling Lewis and Clark Lake. Even though it may not be easy, that does not translate to impossible. The public can expect more than to have land simply bought out to address the problems of sedimentation.
Brigham Young University professor of civil and environmental engineering, Rollin Hotchkiss, spoke to many sedimentation issues at a public meeting Monday, August 1, in downtown Yankton. Those attending the meeting were reminded of the magnitude of this issue that is creeping into their backyards, and their children’s backyards of the Yankton area. Or in places like Niobrara or Springfield — sedimentation has made its presence known for many years.
“The sediment delta – it’s on its way. Gavins Point and its sedimentation issues are the worst in the United States. Congratulations. You got the poster child for this issue in the U.S.,” he said.
Of course, it is not a distinction any reservoir would want to hold.
This meeting was hosted and requested by the Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about the sedimentation problems in and around the Missouri River reservoirs. Hotchkiss has researched the cost benefit analysis approach and its shortcomings. At the Yankton meeting, he related that information to Gavins Point and Lewis and Clark Lake. The analysis also put into perspective what planners should take into account when building future dams.
Hotchkiss has authored more than 150 papers and reports dealing with topics such as determining peak flows in watersheds and turbulence in natural channels and
culverts. He also co-authored “Conversion of a Missouri River Dam and Reservoir to a Sustainable System: Sediment Management” with University of South Dakota researchers Howard E. Coker and Dennis A. Johnson in 2008. The article was published in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.
Hotchkiss addressed how dams impact water and sediment, upstream, within the reservoir and downstream. Other topics included: what can be done to mitigate sediment problems, why we have sediment problems, world-wide happenings, along with the cost benefit analysis approach.
Hotchkiss has been a professor at BYU since 2005 and is currently the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Chairman. He earned his bachelor’s degree from BYU and his PhD in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota. Previously, he was a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Washington State University.