Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name



Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Carol J. Miller


Sedimentation is the most important factor in the longevity of dams built in the United States. As most dams are reaching their capacity for sediment storage, this study investigated the historical and predicted future rates of sediment accumulation as well as the remaining storage capacity. This study examined the mechanisms influencing sediment production and storage in the watershed to provide future insight regarding potential control of this process. Twelve reservoirs throughout the Great Lakes watershed were selected and analyzed for their greater applicability to the entire watershed. Both historic and new data were collected on these dams to determine how the storage capacity has changed over time and to forecast the remaining life-span of the impoundments. Different methods were used to estimate the sediment yield and dam capacity including (1) bathymetric subtraction, (2) USGS (United States Geological Survey) sediment gages, and (3) radionuclide dating. Some correlation was found between agricultural watersheds and a higher sediment load per square mile than forested watersheds do.