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WaterWays 39(4):2(2018)

The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) has awarded contracts worth $6.6M to get the Combie Reservoir Sediment and Mercury Removal Project moving ahead during fall 2018. This pilot project will remove and clean about 80,000 yd3 of sediment from Combie Reservoir using an innovative centrifuge process to reduce elemental Hg in the Bear River watershed. The sediment removal will reduce potential human exposure to methylmercury as well as restore water storage capacity in the reservoir. Work to remove sediment from Combie Reservoir is in the first of two stages—the dry stage—when contractors expect to take 30,000-40,000 yd3 of sediment from the reservoir basin. Dredging in wet conditions is scheduled to begin in February 2019. Most Sierra watersheds contain elevated concentrations of Hg, a remnant of gold processing practices used more than a century ago. This pilot project is intended to demonstrate that Hg can be removed effectively from river sediments. The process then can be applied at other reservoirs throughout the Sierra Nevada. The total project is estimated to cost $7.5M. NID will contribute $2M and the Department of Water Resources will provide $5.5M in grant funding. Read more about the project at https://nidwater.com/conservation/mercury-removal-project/.

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