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Conversion of a Missouri River Dam and Reservoir to a Sustainable System: Sediment Management1


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    Paper No. JAWRA-08-0035-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Abstract:  A present and future challenge for water resources engineers is to extend the useful life of our dams and reservoirs. Ongoing reservoir sedimentation in impoundments must be addressed; sedimentation in many reservoirs already limits project benefits and effective project life. Sustainability requires that incoming sediment be moved downstream past the impounding dam. We use Lewis and Clark Lake, the most downstream of the six Missouri River main stem reservoirs, to demonstrate how a reservoir in advanced stages of its project life could be converted to a sustainable system with local benefits exceeding costs by a factor of 1.5. Full consideration of benefits would further enhance project justification. The proposed strategy involves four phases that will take about 50 years to complete. Cost estimates for this potential project range from the quantitative to the plausible, but it is clear that the results justify a full engineering, environmental, and economic study of this model project. If implemented, the project will create scientific knowledge and develop technologies useful for achieving sustainability at many other reservoirs in the Mississippi River basin and beyond.