Big Muddy Mud
Usually trash, chemicals, and oil are the water pollutants that come to most minds. But what about dirt? The Missouri Clean Water Commission met today to discuss the possible danger of sediment in the water.
"By law, sediment is defined as a pollutant because it often carries nutrients and has an effect of filling in some of the habitat areas, so there's a lot of issues," said Doyle Childers, Department of Natural Resources.
Currently only the Army Corps of Engineers has a permit to dump soil into the river. One of the main concerns for the commission is the effect the amount of sediment will have on shallow water habitat areas. These areas were originally designed for endangered species. Not only does the sediment fill habitats, but it also alters the flow of the river.
"Temperature is an aspect that the commission does have regulatory authority over," said Kurt Schaefer, Department of Natural Resources. "There are other issues relating to flow."
The US Fish and Wildlife Services in Missouri and the Corps of Engineers are in charge of testing the effects of sediment on the water. If there is a harmful effect on the water, the commission must decide whether to revoke the Corps' license or to try and find another area to get rid of the soil.
Until then, the "Big Muddy" will remain big and muddy. Most of the excavated soil is from canals and channels cut from the river for shallow water habitat areas. The commission plans to meet in July with the test results, and the public is encouraged to attend.