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Fact Sheet

September 2010

Missouri River Sand and Gravel Dredging

This fact sheet will assist you in understanding the EPA Region 7 action on a proposal to allow sand and gravel removal from the Missouri River. The proposal would allow the removal of 11.6 million tons per year of main channel river bottom material.

What is the federal action?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) received 11 permit applications from eight dredging companies for Department of Army permits under the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act to dredge sand and gravel from the Missouri River below Rulo, Neb. Sand and gravel is used for construction purposes, particularly highway construction, and demand is heaviest near cities such as Jefferson City, Kansas City, St. Charles and St. Joseph, Mo.

The issuance of these permits is a federal action requiring analysis of the environmental impact of this action under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The USACE has determined that this action could have significant impact on the environment and requires completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The USACE has evaluated the environmental impacts of commercial sand and gravel dredging on the lower Missouri River by developing five alternative actions, including the approach requested by the permit applicants. The five alternatives evaluated by the USACE are based on varying amounts of dredged sand and gravel, including a no dredged option, and lesser amounts than were requested in permit applications.

Where is dredging occurring?

  1. River Mile 498 at Rulo, Neb., to River Mile 0 at St. Charles, Mo.
  2. Involves permits issued by two Corps Districts: KC District, St. Louis District
  3. Key areas of interest include St. Joseph, Kansas City, Jefferson City and St. Charles

Lower Missouri River Sand and Gravel Dredging

Why is EPA taking this action?



Materials Excavated EPA Rating

No Action


Lack of objections (LO)

Proposed Action

11,615,000 MT

Environmentally Unsatisfactory – Insufficient Information (EU-2) 

Alternative A

2,190,000 MT

Environmental Concerns –Insufficient Information (EC-2)

Alternative B

5,050,000 MT

Environmental Objections –Insufficient Information (EO-2)

Alternative C

6,900,000 MT


MT = million tons

What environmental concerns justify EPA's ratings?

Loss of sediment in the Missouri River (by many factors including dredging) results in:
1. Degradation of functional value or complete loss of wetlands adjacent to the River.
2. Headcutting (lowering of river/stream bed elevations) of tributary watercourses.

What will happen next?

Are information needs likely to be met?
EPA believes that the Corps will make use of the soon-to-be-released National Academy of Sciences Study on Missouri River sediments to improve the decision-making value of the Final EIS.

Additional studies that are likely to be completed after a permit decision is made include:

EPA Letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (PDF) (13 pp, 515K, About PDF)

Contact for EPA Region 7: 

Ron Hammerschmidt, 913.551.7566 or by email at hammerschmidt.ron@epa.gov
For further information, please visit the following website:  www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/

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