MISSOURI RIVER PLANNING
Recognizing and Incorporating Sediment Management
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support for this project was provided by U.S. Department of the Army under Contract No. W912DQ-08-D-0041. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-16203-6
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-16203-3
The cover photo shows the mouth of the Niobrara River as it empties into Lewis and Clark Lake, the reservoir behind Gavins Point Dam, near Yankton, South Dakota. The Niobrara is a major sediment contributor to the reservoir, as illustrated by the sharp boundary between turbid Niobrara water and clear Missouri River water across the bottom of the image. The islands are the upper surface of the reservoir headwaters delta. Photo courtesy of William L. Graf, University of South Carolina.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
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The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON MISSOURI RIVER RECOVERY AND ASSOCIATED SEDIMENT MANAGEMENT ISSUES
LEONARD A. SHABMAN, Chair,
Resources for the Future, Washington, DC
University of California, Santa Barbara
DAVID L. GALAT,
U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia, Missouri
WILLIAM L. GRAF,
University of South Carolina, Columbia
ROLLIN H. HOTCHKISS,
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
W. CARTER JOHNSON,
South Dakota State University, Brookings
PATRICIA F. MCDOWELL,
University of Oregon, Eugene
ROBERT H. MEADE,
U.S. Geological Survey (emeritus), Evergreen, Colorado
ROGER K. PATTERSON,
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles
Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
SUJOY B. ROY,
Tetra Tech, Inc., Lafayette, California
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
SANDRA B. ZELLMER,
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
National Research Council Staff
JEFFREY JACOBS, Study Director
ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate
WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD
DONALD I. SIEGEL, Chair,
Syracuse University, New York
LISA M. ALVAREZ-COHEN,
University of California, Berkeley
MARK M. BRINSON,
East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
Ohio State University, Columbus
OTTO C. DOERING III,
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
GERALD E. GALLOWAY,
University of Maryland, College Park
GEORGE R. HALLBERG,
The Cadmus Group, Watertown, Massachusetts
KENNETH R. HERD,
Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville
GEORGE M. HORNBERGER,
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
MICHAEL J. MCGUIRE,
Michael J. McGuire, Inc., Santa Monica, California
DAVID H. MOREAU,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
DENNIS D. MURPHY,
University of Nevada, Reno
MARYLYNN V. YATES,
University of California, Riverside
STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director
JEFFREY JACOBS, Scholar
LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Staff Officer
STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Senior Staff Officer
LAURA J. HELSABECK, Staff Officer
M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Financial and Administrative Associate
ELLEN A. DE GUZMAN, Senior Program Associate
ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate
MICHAEL STOEVER, Research Associate
SARAH BRENNAN, Project Assistant
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built many of the dams and bank control structures that now control Missouri River hydrology and geomorphology. Operations of these projects, in conjunction with projects built by other entities, provide many benefits, including moderation of flood flows that allow human activity in once flood-prone areas, reliable supplies of hydroelectric power and water supply for rural and urban areas, a reliable commercial navigation channel, and extensive water-based recreation opportunities. Recent attention to the status of, and protection for, three endangered species has focused attention on a need to better understand the river’s altered sedimentary processes and how these processes might be best managed in the interests of species recovery. Meanwhile, changes to sedimentary processes and river geomorphology threaten some benefits currently enjoyed by basin residents and water-related and other infrastructure along the river, and have been associated with the loss of wetlands along the Gulf coast.
In response to a request from the Corps of Engineers, the National Academies convened a committee to address seven questions related to Missouri River sediment. The topics covered by the questions ranged from a general overview of past and present sediment processes to how current habitat construction projects and other sediment management alternatives might support species recovery and affect local water quality, as well as land-building processes and water quality in the Gulf of Mexico. The committee thoroughly considered each question in its deliberations and spent a good deal of time discussing its consensus responses to them. Beyond specific findings and recommendations, two cross-cutting themes are reflected throughout this report.
First, understanding sedimentary processes, and the actions that affect those processes, are increasingly important for Missouri River management. Although ongoing studies are being conducted, there is a need to strengthen and synchronize historical and contemporary databases, while at the same time make management decisions under uncertain conditions. This report’s findings and recommendations thus frequently stress the need for improved monitoring and data collection, more rigorous interpretation, and analysis and openness to learning over time even while decisions are made with limited understanding of the system. Second, the committee was attentive to the roles and responsibilities of technical analysts to inform, but not dictate, decisions made in the public choice process. The report’s final chapter (7) offers perspectives on the role of the science community in future policy decisions on river management.
The committee acknowledges the National Research Council and its staff from the Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) for their steadfast efforts in organizing the committee’s activities during and between meetings throughout the study process. Their assistance has been tireless and always cheerfully given. In particular, we appreciate the efforts of our study director, Jeffrey Jacobs, to debate and challenge the arguments being made, then carefully edit the committee’s numerous and extensive draft reports. WSTB senior program associate Anita Hall expertly attended to administrative, logistics, and financial details of our meetings and assisted with editorial and related publications responsibilities.
We are grateful to the many individuals who shared their time and insights with this committee. Appendix A lists invited guest speakers at the committee’s open, public meetings. The views of our invited speakers were complemented nicely by literally dozens of interested and active citizens who offered their comments during our public comment sessions. Our committee benefitted greatly in hearing from all of our speakers, each of whom had unique points of view and backgrounds that were important in contributing to our collective understanding of today’s important scientific and public policy issues along the Missouri River.
This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the NRC in making its published report as sound as possible, and to ensure that the report meets NRC institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following for their review of this report: Jim Best, University of Illinois; Patrick L. Brezonik, University of Minnesota; Martin W.
Doyle, University of North Carolina; Charles G. Groat, University of Texas; Matt Kondolf, University of California; Nancy N. Rabalais, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; A. Dan Tarlock, Chicago-Kent College of Law; and Peter R. Wilcock, Johns Hopkins University.
Although these reviewers provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions and recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Kenneth W. Potter, University of Wisconsin, who was appointed by the NRC Division on Earth and Life Studies. Dr. Potter was responsible for ensuring that an independent examination of this report was conducted in accordance with NRC institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for this report’s final contents rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
Leonard A. Shabman, Chair