USACE Releases a Report on Reservoir Sedimentation in the Context of Climate Change
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is the largest operator of dams in the United States. Each USACE dam was planned, designed and built to provide specific benefits to the American public, including navigation, flood risk reduction, hydropower generation, recreation, and water supply. Most of the USACE dams have operated for more than 50 years, with some approaching 100 years of operation.
Since 2011, the USACE Civil Works Strategic Plan has stressed sustainable solutions for the 21st century. For our reservoirs, this requires that we take into account all of the factors that impact their performance and reliability. Climate change has been identified as a major cause of vulnerability due to its role in changing hydrologic and sedimentation patterns. Together with alterations in drought frequency and magnitude, these changes compel USACE to establish baseline information on reservoir sediment levels and storage capacity which can be used to better understand future conditions.
As part of an effort to set a reservoir sediment baseline, six USACE districts were selected as a representative sample of districts that manage reservoirs in a variety of environmental settings. An analysis of data collected from these districts showed that at some reservoirs, surveys have been repeated on a nearly decadal basis, while at other reservoirs, a single survey at the time of construction is the only data available. Subsequently, a web portal was developed to collect and house reservoir sediment information from across the Nation and to provide analytical information that supports efficient and sustainable reservoir sediment management.
USACE Reservoir Sedimentation in the Context of Climate Change summarizes the findings of the six pilot districts and the additional information housed in the new web portal. It provides recommendations on how to best achieve planned reductions in existing data gaps and how to identify the minimum survey frequency required to accurately project sedimentation impacts to reservoir project benefits.
revised September 14, 2016
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