US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



River Research and Applications 31, 2015


U.S. Government work


The Missouri River has been extensively altered as the result of channelization, bank stabilization, and the construction of six main stem reservoirs. In response to the resultant habitat loss, the US Army Corps of Engineers was tasked with restoring approximately 8100 ha of shallow water habitat (SWH), in part, for the benefit of the endangered pallid sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus albus). Construction of off-channel habitats involves the removal and disposal of excavated alluvium either by direct discharge into the river or by secondary erosion, which raised concerns regarding the introduction of sediment and associated nutrients into the Missouri River. Soils from nine side-channel chutes were sampled to represent nutrient concentrations from habitat restoration activities. Soils from 12 historically undisturbed sites were also sampled to represent reference conditions in the Missouri River flood plain. The results of this study indicate that nutrient characteristics of soils from selected SWH locations generally are similar to those of historically undisturbed soils. The estimated mass of total phosphorus from chutes accounted for 1.9% of Missouri River and 0.5% of Mississippi River total phosphorus loads during the 1993–2012 analysis period. The mass of nitrate, the constituent most closely related to gulf hypoxia, was 0.01% or less of the Missouri and Mississippi River nitrate loads. Sediment volumes from the chutes accounted for 3.1 and 1.5% of total suspended loads from the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Overall, the introduced sediment from side-channel chute construction associated with SWH restoration accounts for a small portion of total nutrient and sediment transport in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.