Sediment Removal Techniques for Reservoir Sustainability

Sediment Removal Techniques for Reservoir Sustainability


[Sound Effect] Jennifer: Sediment is the rocks that are transported
by rivers and it’s a natural part of rivers but it becomes a problem when that sediment
is brought into reservoir environments because it can build up and cause issues to the available
water in those reservoirs; it can cause flooding problems and it can bury a lot of the intakes
that we use to deliver water. Tim: Sedimentation is affecting the project
benefits for the nation’s reservoirs and we need to look at ways to better manage sediment
over the future more sustainably. John: There are three basic categories in
ways to manage sediment in reservoirs: the first to prevent the sediment from coming
into the reservoir in the first place, that can be bank stabilization, bank protection
upstream, better farming practices, anything that can be done to prevent erosion in the
upstream watershed; the second method is to prevent the sediment from depositing in the
reservoir and there can be tunnels or other ways to bypass the sediment around the reservoir
or to pass it through the reservoir before it deposits; and the third basic category
of methods is to remove sediment that has already deposited, things like dredging, things
like opening the gates and flushing the sediment through. Paul: The limitations are generally associated
with downstream channels and their capacity. Many times, flushing is limited by the ability
of the downstream channel to handle a flush and for many of the others methodologies they
can be very expensive, extremely expensive. Jennifer: We need better sediment removal
technology because that sedimentation is growing and a problem every year and if we don’t
deal with the problem now we’re going to be passing it on to future generations and
if we pass it on to future generations the problem is going to be more cost expensive
and more difficult to figure out what to do with all that sediment. Tim: The types of improvements we’re looking
for would be: ability to go deeper with the dredging, going after those fine sediments
closer to the dam and going after those course sediments, sands and gravels much further
at upstream end of the reservoir and getting that transported through without clogging
or breakdowns. Paul: In general, what we’re looking for
is a significant step up in efficiency. How do we do more sediment management with
less resources than we currently have? Jennifer: The benefit that we could get if
we figure out easier and cost-efficient ways to remove reservoir sediment, is that we can
better manage our flood risk, we can make these reservoirs and dam facilities last far
into the future. Tim: So, with the prize competition, we’re
hoping to focus people’s attention on the issue of removing sediment from the reservoirs. Paul: Opening this up to the public allows
folks who are not practitioners who can come at the problem from a completely new perspective
to bring something to the table that I or my fellow engineers may not have thought of
and that’s an exciting opportunity.

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