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The aging of America's reservoirs: In-reservoir and downstream physical changes and habitat implications

February 1, 2015

Reservoirs are important for various purposes including flood control, water supply, power generation, and recreation. The aging of America's reservoirs and progressive loss of water storage capacity resulting from ongoing sedimentation, coupled with increasing societal needs, will cause the social, economic, environmental, and political importance of reservoirs to continually increase. The short- and medium-term (<50 years) environmental consequences of reservoir construction and operation are well known and include an altered flow regime, lost connectivity (longitudinal, floodplain), an altered sediment regime, substrate compositional change, and downstream channel degradation. In general, reservoir-related changes have had adverse consequences for the natural ecosystem. Longer term (>50 years) environmental changes as reservoirs enter “old” age are less understood. Additional research is needed to help guide the future management of aging reservoir systems and support the difficult decisions that will have to be made. Important research directions include assessment of climate change effects on aging and determination of ecosystem response to ongoing aging and various management actions that may be taken with the intent of minimizing or reversing the physical effects of aging.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title The aging of America's reservoirs: In-reservoir and downstream physical changes and habitat implications
DOI 10.1111/jawr.12238
Authors Kyle E. Juracek
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Series Number
Index ID 70174827
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Kansas Water Science Center