Interest in Deposits (available only in Geoenvironmental Special Issue)

by Gregory Morris, P.E., (M.ASCE), Principal; Gregory Morris & Associate, San Juan, Puerto Rico,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1998, Vol. 68, Issue 2, Pg. 4A-7A

Document Type: Feature article


Sediment accumulating in reservoirs worldwide is gradually reducing storage capacity, posing a long-term threat to supplies of drinking and irrigation water. The buildups also highlight environmental damage that begins with the construction of a dam to create a reservoir. Dams and reservoirs drastically alter stream and river flow, and in the process change the pattern of sediment transport that riverine species are adapted to and depend upon for their homes. There are a number of strategies to combat the sedimentation problem. Reducing sediment yield from the watershed is the least disruptive and most forward-thinking solution, but erosion-control programs need significant cooperation from land users to be effective. Sediment routing passes sediment-laden water around or through the reservoir, maintaining as close a simulation of natural conditions as possible for the environment below the dam. Removing deposited sediment can be accomplished by hydraulic flushing (not allowed in the U.S.) and dredging, an expensive and last-resort option.

Subject Headings: Sediment | Reservoirs | Dams | Water storage | Streamflow | Sediment transport | Watersheds

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