Recording Available: 2024 Annual Meeting

The Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition held its 23rd Annual Meeting on May 2 in Niobrara. The recording of the keynote presentation is now available at MSAC’s YouTube Channel and here on its website, below.

Paul Boyd, hydraulic engineer – River and Reservoir Engineering Section of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Omaha District, provided an update on the sediment collector pilot project planned for at least a week-long installation on the Niobrara River later this summer. The project, funded by the Corps’ Regional Sediment Management (RSM) Program, is coordinated by USACE Omaha District and in collaboration with the Corps’ Engineering Development and Research Center (ERDC) and the Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition (MSAC).

For decades, the Niobrara River with its nearly unlimited sand supply has been the single, largest contributor of the sedimentation building up in the Lewis and Clark Lake delta. MSAC sees this short-term collector pilot project with the potential of sparking long-term results. Over the past several years the group has focused on the Lewis and Clark Lake region as the waterbody behind Gavins Point Dam will be the first of the six Missouri River mainstem reservoirs to fill with sediment if no action is taken. Phase 2 of a Section 22 Planning Assistance to States study requested by MSAC to develop a sediment management plan for this region was released at the end of 2023. Next steps were also discussed at the annual meeting.

MSAC elected a new Board of Director (Class I – Governmental Entities), Alan Wittmuss, of Vermillion. Tim Cowman of Vermillion did not seek re-election. Kersten Johnson, of Sioux Falls, Class II-Organizations, was re-elected to a 3-year term.

Wittmuss is the Assessment Team Leader for Watershed Protection Program, which is part of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (SDDANR).  He has both a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Biology with an emphasis on Aquatic Ecology from the University of South Dakota.

As an environmental scientist, Alan has worked in lake and stream watershed assessments for over 30 years focusing on surface water quality monitoring and total maximum daily load (TMDL) development.  The SDDANR Watershed Protection group works to assess, improve, restore, and maintain the health of South Dakota waters by providing local government bodies, natural resource management agencies, and the general public with information, funding, and technical assistance for watershed assessment and restoration projects.

Three individuals were recognized as Friends of the River. MSAC applauded the years of contributions that Tim Cowman, of Vermillion, Larry Weiss, of Sioux Falls, and Mark Simpson, of Niobrara have all made and continue to make toward MSAC’s mission.

MSAC, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, was organized in 2001. It is dedicated to educating the public and to promoting the intelligent use of all available programs and funds to alleviate the sedimentation-caused problems of the Missouri River main-stem reservoirs. MSAC supports a sustainable approach to reservoir management, envisioning doing what is necessary to extend the storage capacity of the reservoir as far into the future as possible recognizing the value of our most precious resource – water.

Recording Available: 2023 Annual Meeting

Paul Boyd, hydraulic engineer – River and Reservoir Engineering Section USACE-Omaha District on May 19, 2023 in Yankton

At MSAC’s 22nd annual meeting held in Yankton on May 19, 2023, Paul Boyd, hydraulic engineer – River and Reservoir Engineering Section of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Omaha District, provided an update on Phase 2 and next steps. Joining Boyd, was Justin Brewer, Chief, Economics and Planning Quality Review USACE – Omaha District. Phase 2 is part of the effort by MSAC, stakeholders and the USACE to develop a sediment management plan for the Lewis and Clark Lake region. Phase 2 includes a detailed economic inventory of benefits and a review of possible sediment management actions that could produce positive sustainability benefits.

Some meeting focal points:

  • Attendees questioned aspects the economics research and information presented. Recreation and dam decommissioning estimates, and costs of impacts downstream were three areas discussed. Corps staff and attendees examined ways to approach the economics as the Phase 2 final draft comes together.
  • Corps staff provided key points of the Colorado School of Mines engineering student capstone project which looked at an initial conceptual analysis of what an active project would entail on Lewis and Clark Lake using Guardians of the Reservoir finalists’ technology. The student team proposed a single D-Sediment remote autonomous dredge and transport of sediment downstream to Missouri River.
  • Discussion about Phase 3.

BACKGROUND: Shortly after Gavins Point Dam was completed in 1957 near Yankton, SD, people at the upper end of the lake and upstream began to feel the impacts of accumulating sediment. Currently, the lake is at least 30 percent full of sediment and by the year 2045 it is projected to be 50 percent full of sediment. In 2018, MSAC requested technical assistance from the USACE to develop a sediment management plan for the Lewis and Clark Lake region. The project is jointly funded by the USACE and the local sponsor, MSAC. To date, 14 stakeholders along with MSAC and its members have contributed funds to the local effort. MSAC anticipates lessons learned in this process will help the other Missouri River reservoirs in future planning.

Additional business for MSAC’s annual meeting included a Board of Directors member election. MSAC’s Board of Director members with terms expiring were re-elected: Mark Simpson, at large, and Paul Lepisto, at large, and Mary Hurd, at large.