Kansas City, Mo. Despite concerns about channel bottom erosion, the Army Corps of Engineers said it will continue to dredge sand on the Missouri River in Kansas City.
Downward scouring of the channel bottom has lowered water levels around Kansas City, which causes problems for area utilities with water intakes. Despite some adjustments, the downward scouring is continuing, officials said.
Officials also fear that continued downward cutting of the channel could undermine bridge piers, dikes and levees. Shoring them up to offset channel cutting could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
The sand dredging is a possible factor in the erosion problems. But the region's construction companies depend on the sand.
"We're trying to balance it to have the least impact on the river that we can, as well as have the least impact on the region's economy," said Cody Wheeler, regulatory program manager for the corps' Kansas City District.
Holliday Sand & Gravel Co. of Kansas City, will get a three-year contract to continue dredging at Kansas City.
But two other firms that have sought permits to begin dredging were turned down because the corps wants to reduce the amount of sand taken from the river around Kansas City, Wheeler said.
Under the terms of the new permit, Holliday will have to reduce the amount of sand it takes from the river. The company also must maintain Global Positioning System equipment that monitors where dredging occurs. The dredges must be away from bridges and levees, and there are limits on how much sand can be taken.
The corps is allowing more sand dredging downriver at Lexington, Mo., where the channel bed has been stable.
Meanwhile, hydrologists for the corps continue to study the river to determine exactly what is causing the channel bottom erosion.