Testimony: Environment Missouri opposes further commercial dredging of the Missouri River

Environment Missouri opposes any further commercial dredging along the Missouri River. 

Scenic view of the Missouri River
Missouri River- image by Yinan Chen from Pixabay
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Environment Missouri opposes any further commercial dredging along the Missouri River. We do support Alternative 1C of eliminating sand and gravel mining per the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District report Missouri River Bed Degradation Feasibility Study. The Missouri river is currently in a degraded condition and one of the key reasons is due to the large amount of commercial river dredging over the past 5 years. In order to lessen the impacts and response by the river to major flooding events, habitat destruction for the fauna along the river, and a return to a more sustainable and natural river geomorphology we must insist that the city eliminate any commercial sand and gravel mining. With an elimination of river dredging we could change the nickname of the “Big Muddy” to a river habitable for all flora, fauna, and citizens along the Missouri River.

The river is essential for Kansas Citians outdoor recreation, it is the main drinking water source for the city, and provides crucial habitat for several species of animals. With further dredging and channelization of the Missouri River the city could see harsher flooding events alongside issues arising from contamination of their main drinking source. A full elimination can protect the river at the lowest cost to infrastructure to help maintain the river’s natural ecosystem. 

Bed degradation leads to loss of wetlands along the river that provides necessary vegetation to help recover from major flooding events while providing essential habitat for many of our fauna along the river. This includes migratory birds, over 90 different species of fish, amphibians, and species protected by the Endangered Species Act.

There are several reasons for bed degradation, wetland loss, and reduced water quality along the Missouri River. However, data shows that river dredging for sand and gravel mining is exacerbating this problem and it should be done in a more sustainable version, if needing to be done at all. Sand and gravel mining is one aspect that we have the power to control right now, and is happening at an unnecessary rate with alarming consequences. Among the report findings of the risk and uncertainty analysis was that “the degradation in Kansas City would not have occurred if commercial sand and gravel mining was absent from the channel. This was determined by running the calibrated model from 1994 to 2014 with and without the commercial sand and gravel mining. In the absence of commercial sand and gravel mining, the Missouri River in the Kansas City area would have been in a recovery phase following the 1993 Missouri River Flood.”

Due to the devastating effects of commercial sand and gravel mining along the Missouri River, Environment Missouri opposes any further dredging along the river.

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Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

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