The alarming loss of water storage capacity to sedimentation in reservoirs worldwide is prompting a paradigm
shift toward sustainable management. Previous research has investigated the physical capability of various technologies to
control reservoir sediment, and formulated economic rules governing their optimal sustainable use. We ask the next relevant
questions: Is sustainable reservoir management structurally stable for particular technologies, or do thresholds exist
such that small perturbations in key management parameters abruptly unleash dynamics driving the reservoir toward extinction?
What are the dynamic properties of reservoirs in transition? We uncover a saddle-node bifurcation for the particular
case of a multi-purpose public reservoir manager who adopts the environmentally friendly ‘hydrosuction-dredging’
sediment removal technology. Beyond the bifurcation threshold, sustainable management abruptly gives way to eventual
loss of storage capacity to sedimentation.