About five-million tons of sand and mud flow into Lewis and Clark Lake each year and it’s slowly turning the lake’s western end into a slough.
Mark Simpson of Niobrara, who chairs the Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition, is working to find solutions so it won’t become a stagnant swamp.
“As we explore more opportunities for what to use this sediment for, we have a chance to go ahead with some of these options we have,” Simpson says. “As we learn, the options become better all the time. We forsee that we have some partial solutions that may someday contribute to a total solution.”
A recent study from the U.S. Geological Survey shows promise the sand could be used by the oil and gas industries for fracking. The challenges remain how to remove and then transport the river sand.
Simpson says they would like to set up a small demonstration project this summer.
“Keep doing what we’re doing,” he says, “and if we’re looking at sediment collector technology and if we can get a demonstrator model on the Niobrara River, that’s our next step.”
Simpson says they’re also working on future funding through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and elsewhere to keep the west end of the lake navigable.
“There’s a possibility this year and then we’ve got another grant opportunity through the Corps for the following year,” Simpson says. “One way or the other, we’re going to try and get it done.”
The coalition is made up of cities, counties and other interested parties along the Missouri River in Nebraska and South Dakota.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton