Missouri River Degradation


Degradation is happening to the Missouri River, and it could cost the region billions of dollars in damaged infrastructure and lost business revenue. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mid-America Regional Council and local community partners collaborated to execute a study of the degradation and to learn what could be done to prevent it. The study did not result in the development of a recommended plan for implementation and no further study efforts will be conducted. A technical report documenting the evaluation conducted and the technical findings of the project is available.

Study Findings


There are a great many factors that are contributing to degradation. The study discovered that land use changes, dikes and revetment construction, river cutoffs, major flooding, dam construction, flow modification by reservoir regulations and commercial dredging for sand and aggregate are the chief contributors.


Degradation of such a large and vital central waterway for our region jeopardizes bridge and transportation systems and puts tributary bridge crossings at risk; it contributes to a loss of shallow-water organism habitats, loss of wetlands; and causes new obstructions to waterway navigation, like pipeline crossings that were previously well below the surface. It can also lead to safety issues, undermining area dikes and levees; and creating instability of drainage outfall structures and the riverbank itself. It also costs the area’s governing authorities money, necessitating modifications of power plant and water supply intakes.

Possible management options

Management measures were identified that had the potential to meet at least one of the project objectives. These included modifying Missouri Riverbank Stabilization and Navigation Project (BSNP) structures, widening channel banks, installing grade-control structures, augmenting the river with gravel, bypassing sediment around Gavin’s Point Dam, and modifying quantities of sand and gravel removed from the river by commercial channel mining activities.

For more information, please reference the technical report