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(YANKTON) – Lewis and Clark Lake is not alone when it comes to trapped sediment taking up valuable reservoir storage space originally designed for water. Today, many of the reservoirs and dams constructed decades ago are on an unsustainable course. Without policies or programs in place to manage reservoirs for the long-term future, their days as a valuable resource for stored water are numbered.  

Tim Randle, a supervisory civil engineer (hydraulics) and Manager of the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Sedimentation and River Hydraulics Group, will present a webinar exploring how sedimentation is impacting the nation’s reservoirs on Thursday, Dec. 12 beginning at 11 a.m. CST (10 a.m. MST & Noon EST). The free, public event is hosted by the Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition of Yankton/Springfield.

Randle, working from Reclamation’s Denver office, is Chair of the National Reservoir Sedimentation and Sustainability Team (NRSST). On June 12, the team published a white paper entitled “Reservoir Sediment Management: Building a Legacy of Sustainable Water Storage Reservoirs.” Twenty-five engineers and scientists from federal agencies, consulting firms, industry and universities make-up the team.

The NRSST reports a sobering reality for many of the country’s 90,000 dams and reservoirs. Here is an excerpt: “The present practice of allowing the nation’s reservoirs to gradually fill with sediment over time is not sustainable. Once the benefits of a reservoir have been lost to sedimentation, dam removal is often the eventual outcome and can be expensive for large sedimentation volumes. Even after dam removal, significant quantities of sediment may remain in the reservoir which will likely render the area unsuitable for future generations to use for water storage.”

However, as the NRSST points out, policies and programs can be put in place to support sustainable sediment management planning. And, there are measures available to manage sediment.

In July, Reclamation announced six winners of a prize competition seeking new and improved techniques for the removal of sediment and its transport in a cost-effective manner. There were 40 potential solutions submitted. During the Dec. 12th webinar, Randle will also provide information on this competition and its next steps.

To register for the webinar, email msaconline@gmail.com or visit MSAC’s website at www.keepitwater.org or visit the organization’s Facebook page. MSAC also intends to record the webinar for public access after Dec. 12.