Reservoirs play a major role in North Carolina’s water and energy supply. They are the storage sites of community drinking water, sources of hydroelectric power supply, and serve as flood control structures and sediment storage depositories. Residential and commercial development, as well as agricultural and industrial growth, increases erosion and sedimentation into reservoirs by clearing forested landscapes and increasing surface-runoff. Increased sedimentation can result in decreased reservoir capacity and threaten long-term water supply. The results below are based on a graduate student research project initiated by the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions to understand the extent of sedimentation and loss of capacity in North Carolina reservoirs.
This paper provides a detailed report on major findings for B. Everett Jordan Dam within the context of all North Carolina reservoirs. While the majority of attention surrounds the ongoing assessment of water quality and nutrient management within Jordan Lake reservoir, our research on sedimentation rates can help uncover whether remaining sedimentation deposits pose an issue of capacity that should also be considered more actively as part of a broader water protection context.