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Missouri River Planning: Recognizing and Incorporating Sediment Management
The mainstem Missouri River historically carried a large sediment andnutrient load that was important to the evolution and survival of nativeflora and fauna. These pre-regulation characteristics should be consideredin the process of developing water quality standards for the Missouri River.
The federal agencies that are partners in the MRRP, and other majorMissouri River ecosystem program and initiatives, should collaborate withongoing EPA nutrient criteria guidance development process to achieveagreement among themselves and with the states on designated uses for theriver, by river segment, to reflect requirements for native species. As a resultof this effort, EPA should support states that revise their existing narrativecriteria for the mainstem Missouri River in order to reflect requirementsfor native species, even if such separate narrative sediment and nutrientcriteria later are replaced by numeric criteria. As appropriate, downstreamconsiderations (such as Gulf hypoxia) may be considered in the setting ofphosphorus criteria.
There has been a good deal of discussion regarding Corps of Engineers habitat restoration actions along the Missouri River that introduce sediment to the main channel. Specifically, some parties have asserted that private entities are held to a higher standard of permitting and monitoring than a federal agency such as the Corps of Engineers. In order to obtain better, more systematic information on sediment dynamics along the river and specific activities that introduce sediment, it is important that all major activities that discharge sediment—whether private sector or governmental—be similarly monitored and evaluated.
All actions by the Corps of Engineers that discharge sediment to theMissouri River either during project construction or through erosion following construction, should be subjected to monitoring requirements forsediment physical and chemical characteristics. This monitoring should beconducted to ensure that sediment or other pollutants discharged to theriver comply with applicable water quality criteria.