Ross Guenther: Sediment removal in California’s reservoirs
Many of the more than 1,000 California reservoirs are now more than 20 percent filled with sediment. Although the coarser sediment often has a value as sand and gravel, the finer material (about a third or more of the sediment) has had no market and is very expensive to dispose of.
If during the dry season only 1 percent of these reservoirs were drained and cleaned out by surface excavation, in one year it would be the equivalent of building more than two new dams.
With Ceramext technologies the sediment fines do have a value when manufactured into such high-quality ceramics as fireproof floor tile, roof tile, siding, brick and other ceramics, and need not go to expensive landfills. Mercury, which often occurs in these fines, especially in the California Sierras, can be an expensive disposal problem.
Even if a reservoir could be safely dredged with the more expensive wet dredging, the fines would still need to be disposed. However, using Ceramext technologies the mercury can be safely recovered in activated carbon in the ceramic kiln flues.
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