PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION

Understanding Missouri River's sediment dynamics key to protecting endangered species

Understanding Missouri River's Sediment dynamics key to protecting endangered species, setting water quality standards, says new report

2010-09-29
(Press-News.org) Sept. 28, 2010 -- A new report from the National Research Council says that more organized and systematic procedures for gathering and evaluating data on Missouri River sediment are required to improve decisions and better manage the river's ecosystem, including protecting endangered species and developing water quality standards. In addition, the report finds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' projects to restore habitats along the Missouri River are not significantly changing the size of the oxygen-depleted "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, nor will options for reintroducing sediment to the system be able to substantially re-establish historic volumes of sediment that were transported downstream to the Louisiana delta.

During the 20th century, a network of dams and riverbank stabilization structures was built to control and manage the flow of water in the Missouri River for a variety of purposes, including flood control, water supply, and navigation. In addition to these many benefits, the projects also significantly reduced the amount of sediment traveling down the river to the Mississippi River and ultimately out to the Gulf of Mexico. These engineering projects and the resulting changes in the river's natural habitat contributed to declines of one fish species, the pallid sturgeon, and two bird species, the least tern and piping plover, which are all listed as threatened or endangered. Currently, most river management authority lies with the Corps, essentially delegating it as the "water master" and hence sediment manager of the Missouri River.

In the early 2000s, to address the adverse consequences of river development on the endangered species and comply with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "biological opinions," the Corps began projects to restore sandbar and shallow water habitats along the lower river. However, these projects drew concern that the sediment being discharged into the river at these project sites was impacting water quality and violating pollution control laws. Moreover, opponents said that the additional sediment and associated nutrients, especially phosphorus, were increasing the size of the dead zone in the Gulf. In light of these concerns, the Corps asked the Research Council to examine sediment and related resource management in the Missouri River system.

The committee that wrote the report found that sediment concentration and deposition are as important as the quantity and flow of water for many river processes. Current means for collecting and evaluating sediment data, however, are fragmented and not well-organized. A centralized system for evaluating, archiving, and retrieving Missouri River sediment is necessary for better informed river and sediment management decisions. The committee recommended that the Corps and U.S. Geological Survey extend their ongoing collaborative efforts in sediment data collection and evaluation and develop a "sediment budget" for the whole river, which would include provisions for continuing revisions and updates as new data become available.

To date, the Corps' restoration projects have been implemented and monitored with limited strategic guidance. To move toward a more systematic approach to ecosystem management, the report proposes actions for evaluating current and future projects. These include the establishment of ecological performance objectives and the development of conceptual models to evaluate environmental variables and their relative influences on endangered species. Additionally, given that the restoration projects may not be effective in removing the species from the threatened and endangered list, alternative actions for species' recovery should be formulated.

The report also examined other options to reintroduce additional sediment into the Missouri River, which include removing riverbank stabilization structures, dredging, bypassing sediment around dams in the main stem of the river, removing dams, and increasing sediment from tributaries. The committee noted that all such alternatives would face major technical and financial constraints and that a majority of Missouri River valley residents would be unlikely to support major reconfiguration of the river channel. The Corps' restoration projects could release enough sediment to increase supply to the Mississippi delta by 10 percent to 20 percent, roughly 34 million tons per year, for at least the next 15 years. However, there is little potential in the near future to re-establish volumes of sediment transported downstream that approach the amounts before construction of dams and stabilization structures, the report concludes.

Regarding the influence of the Corps' restoration projects on the Gulf dead zone, the committee said that multiple factors affect the size of the zone, and it is inappropriate to relate dead zone changes in any given year to these projects. Further, given the relatively small volumes of sediment and nutrients added to the Missouri River from the Corps' projects, they are not likely to significantly change the size of the northern Gulf of Mexico dead zone.

When developing water quality standards, the large amounts of sediment and nutrients carried in the river before the dams and structures were engineered should be considered, the report says. In addition, all actions by the Corps that discharge sediment in the Missouri River, either during project construction or through subsequent erosion, should be monitored to ensure they comply with water quality criteria.

###

The report was sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter. Committee members, who serve pro bono as volunteers, are chosen by the Academies for each study based on their expertise and experience and must satisfy the Academies' conflict-of-interest standards. The resulting consensus reports undergo external peer review before completion. For more information, visit http://national-academies.org/studycommitteprocess.pdf. A committee roster follows.

Copies of MISSOURI RIVER PLANNING: RECOGNIZING AND INCORPORATING SEDIMENT MANAGEMENT are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at HTTP://WWW.NAP.EDU. Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed below).

Contacts: Jennifer Walsh, Media Relations Officer
Luwam Yeibio, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
202-334-2138; e-mail

[ This news release and report are available at HTTP://NATIONAL-ACADEMIES.ORG ]

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Division on Earth and Life Studies
Water Science and Technology Board

COMMITTEE ON MISSOURI RIVER RECOVERY AND ASSOCIATED SEDIMENT MANAGEMENT ISSUES

LEONARD A. SHABMAN (CHAIR)
Resident Scholar
Resources for the Future
Arlington, Va.

THOMAS DUNNE *
Professor
Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
University of California
Santa Barbara

DAVID L. GALAT
Professor
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
University of Missouri
Columbia

WILLIAM L. GRAF
Distinguished Professor, and
Professor and Chair
Department of Geography
University of South Carolina
Columbia

ROLLIN H. HOTCHKISS
Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah

W. CARTER JOHNSON
Professor of Ecology
Department of Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape, and Parks
South Dakota State University
Brookings

ROBERT H. MEADE
Research Hydrologist, Emeritus
U.S. Geological Survey
Evergreen, Colo.

PATRICIA F. MCDOWELL
Professor
Department of Geography
University of Oregon
ugene

ROGER K. PATTERSON
Assistant General Manager
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
Los Angeles

NICHOLAS PINTER
Professor
Department of Geology
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale

SUJOY B. ROY
Director of Environmental Sciences
Tetra Tech Inc.
Lafayette, Calif.

DONALD SCAVIA
Professor and Director of Michigan Sea Grant
School of Natural Resources
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor

SANDRA B. ZELLMER
Professor of Law
College of Law
University of Nebraska
Lincoln

RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

JEFFREY JACOBS
Study Director

* Member, National Academy of Sciences

END



ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Wheel in a corset

Wheel in a corset
2010-09-29
Just imagine your car suddenly comes to a halt on a quiet country road, and it's only four years old. This is not a pleasant thought. A breakdown is expensive. Not to mention the safety risk to the occupants – because the breakdown was caused by the extremely light plastic wheels so highly praised by the car salesman. One of them has broken. »Such a scenario must, of course, never happen in reality,« states Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Büter from the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF in Darmstadt. The experts there specialize in operational ...

Study finds potential climate change side effect: More parasites on South American birds

Study finds potential climate change side effect: More parasites on South American birds
2010-09-29
A Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) study on nesting birds in Argentina finds that increasing temperatures and rainfall—both side effects of climate change in some parts of the world—could be bad for birds of South America, but great for some of their parasites which thrive in warmer and wetter conditions. The study, which looked at nesting forest birds in Santa Fe, Argentina, found that increases in temperature and precipitation produce a bumper crop of parasitic fly larvae of the species Philornis torquans, parasites that burrow into the skin of baby birds to feed. ...

Why we fight: Men check out in stressful situations

2010-09-29
A new study by USC researchers reveals that stressed men looking at angry faces had diminished activity in the brain regions responsible for understanding others' feelings. Turns out the silent and stoic response to stress might be a guy thing after all. "These are the first findings to indicate that sex differences in the effects of stress on social behavior extend to one of the most basic social transactions — processing someone else's facial expression," said Mara Mather, director of the Emotion and Cognition Lab at USC. In an article appearing the October 6 issue ...

Assessment of US doctoral programs released, offers data on more than 5,000 programs nationwide

2010-09-29
Sept. 28, 2010 — The National Research Council today released its assessment of U.S. doctoral programs, which includes data on over 5,000 programs in 62 fields at 212 universities nationwide. The assessment is designed to help universities evaluate and improve the quality of their programs and to provide prospective students with information on the nation's doctoral programs. (See Full Report) "This report and its large collection of quantitative data will become in our view an important and transparent instrument for strengthening doctoral education in the United States," ...

Pet allergies worsen hay fever symptoms, Queen's study finds

2010-09-29
Being allergic to dogs or cats may worsen your ragweed allergies, according to a study from Queen's University. Researchers found that people with pet allergies often develop ragweed allergy symptoms more quickly than others. But the study also suggests that once allergy season is in full swing, those symptom differences subside. The team, led by Anne Ellis, an assistant professor in the departments of medicine and microbiology & immunology, exposed 123 participants to ragweed, and noted that pet allergy sufferers reported symptoms differently than their non-animal ...

African-American seniors at twice the risk for mental abuse, 5 times for financial exploitation

2010-09-29
PITTSBURGH—In the first population-based survey to indicate a racial disparity in the psychological abuse of senior citizens, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that African American seniors could be twice as likely to be mistreated than elders of other races. The survey also revealed that African American elders could be up to five times more susceptible to being swindled. Reporting the survey results in The Gerontologist, the researchers urged that health care and social service workers be especially vigilant for the possible mistreatment of African American seniors. Lead ...

Model aims to reduce disaster toll on city's social, economic fabric

Model aims to reduce disaster toll on citys social, economic fabric
2010-09-29
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers have created a computer model that predicts how a disaster's impact on critical infrastructure would affect a city's social and economic fabric, a potential tool to help reduce the severity of impacts, manage the aftermath of catastrophe and fortify infrastructure against future disasters. "The model works for any type of disaster that influences the infrastructure," said Makarand Hastak, head of construction engineering and management and a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University. "If we can identify in advance the most ...

John P. Holdren addresses climate change, stressing need for international cooperation

2010-09-29
In a recent keynote address before the Kavli Science Forum: 2010 in Oslo, Dr. John P. Holdren -- science advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama -- provided insight into why climate change is a priority to the Obama administration, and pressed the need for an international effort to mitigate, and adapt to, what he termed the effects of "global climate disruption." "We cannot solve the great problems of our time alone - any of us - as individual nations," he stated. "We need to solve them together, and science and technology pursued together are going to be immensely important ...

International scientific forum on alcohol research

2010-09-29
In a very large cohort of African-American women in the US, the association between the consumption of alcohol, tea, and coffee and the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (late onset diabetes) was studied for 12 years. Tea and decaffeinated coffee showed no relation with diabetes, but the regular moderate intake of both caffeinated coffee and alcohol appeared to reduce the risk of contracting late onset diabetes significantly. This paper is particularly important because some previous studies have not shown a strong association between alcohol and the risk of ...

Study finds language barriers may play role in health care disparities

2010-09-29
(Boston) - Researchers from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have found that individuals who do not speak English at home are less likely to receive colorectal cancer screenings (CRC) as compared to those who do speak English at home. The findings, which currently appear on-line in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, suggest that patient-provider language barriers play a role in health-care disparities, and that providers should promote the importance of CRC screening to non-English speaking patients. The United States ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

Link found between kneecap shape and debilitating joint disease

Generative AI tools like Pix2Pix–BicycleGAN are revolutionizing landscape design by enhancing masterplan generation and rendering

Expanding APAC presence, Insilico Medicine seals strategic collaboration on AI-driven mash therapy development with Korean Biotech Therasid Bioscience

When it comes to butterflies, people prefer pretty ones. That’s a problem for scientists.

UBC Okanagan study raises concerns about partner violence in queer relationships

Human-infecting parasite produces sterile soldiers like ants and termites

The unintended consequences of success against malaria

Taco-shaped arthropod from Royal Ontario Museum’s Burgess Shale fossils gives new insights into the history of the first mandibulates

Butterflies accumulate enough static electricity to attract pollen without contact, new research finds

Eyes for Love: Searching for light and a mate in the deep, dark sea, male dragonfishes grow larger eyes than the females they seek

PNNL scientists tap nation’s fastest computers to explore critical science questions

Peri-operative care of transgender and gender-diverse individuals: new guidance for clinicians and departments published

Clinical psychologist’s book addresses largely ignored problem: social anxiety

Researchers leveraging AI to train (robotic) dogs to respond to their masters

Drawing water from dry air

Combining trapped atoms and photonics for new quantum devices

A new way to make element 116 opens the door to heavier atoms

New genetic tool could identify drug targets for diseases associated with metabolic dysfunction

Plant Biologist Siobhan Brady named HHMI Investigator

Long-acting injectable cabotegravir for HIV prevention is safe in pregnancy

Large language models don’t behave like people, even though we may expect them to

NREL researchers highlight opportunities for manufacturing perovskite solar panels with a long-term vision

Top Medicare advantage plans less available in disadvantaged areas

Better carbon storage better carbon storage with stacked geology with stacked geology

Sharp temperature reduction for quantum dots in polymer by highly efficient heat dissipation pathways

UAF researcher creates way to detect elusive volcanic vibrations

Lissajous pattern multi-pass cell: Enhancing high sensitivity and simultaneous dual-gas LITES sensing

Asexual reproduction usually leads to a lack of genetic diversity. Not for these ants.

Mini lungs make major COVID-19 discoveries possible

Exploratory analysis associates HIV drug abacavir with elevated cardiovascular disease risk in large global trial

[Press-News.org] Understanding Missouri River's sediment dynamics key to protecting endangered species
Understanding Missouri River's Sediment dynamics key to protecting endangered species, setting water quality standards, says new report