Approaches to Impoundment Management

The knowledge needed to operate and manage impoundments in a sustainable way already exists. Impoundment management is no different from managing other ecosystems in that it requires an understanding of the basic principles of ecosystem integrity and the application of theory to practice.

The application of these principles requires prospective approaches featuring integrative thinking and planning for sustainability. Too often, current management approaches have focused heavily on prevention and correction. Preventive management does not violate ecosystem principles and is clearly preferable to the use of corrective remedies. Ecosystem thinking encourages common management of the resource and common goals for clean production so as to ensure continuing utility of the resource. Savings of materials, costs, and energy are beneficial to water quality and to a cleaner environment.

Impoundments offer management opportunities that are not necessarily practicable for natural water bodies. Types of management include:

• control of catchment land use and runoff,

• water column destabilization,

• selective discharge depths, and

• new impoundments.

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