Impacts of Erosion on Rivers

By Brett Martin |

Published 07/11 2014 10:53AM

Updated 07/11 2014 11:15AM

CHRISTIAN COUNTY, Mo. -- KOLR10’s Brett Martin talks to Joe Pitts, with James River Basin Partnership, about the impact of erosion on our local rivers.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: We started here and we've kind of worked our way down. We’ve been to shuttle rock and we put in here, and now we're going to make our way down the bank.

Joe Pitts, James River Basin Partnership: What we have here is a really good riparian zone. It’s protective of the river.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: We're lucky enough to be right here in the shade with the beautiful trees around us, but I want to see more of what's going on downstream.

Joe Pitts, James River Basin Partnership: As we move downstream, you'll be able to see some spots that aren't quite as well protected. We should be able to see some cut banks where there's a lot of erosion. Of course, soil erosion is one of the bigger issues, sediment basically in the river.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: What can that sediment do to the water?

Joe Pitts, James River Basin Partnership: The sediment is actually made up of soil particles, gravel, whatever else may be laying loose on the surface of the land. You’re feeding the lawn; you're probably feeding the river too.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: It becomes that murky look and people.

Joe Pitts, James River Basin Partnership: We, we end up with people going back to dirty old James. Some of the nutrients go pretty quickly through the system; others of them stay on the bottom and the sediments and may be there for years and years before they are cycled out. So sediment in particular carries a lot of the phosphorous off the landscape that we are really concerned about. That’s one nutrient, the other one is nitrogen.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: So nitrogen and phosphorous are two things that we don’t want as much of in the river?

Joe Pitts, James River Basin Partnership: Right, we presently have probably pretty good levels but they could always be a little bit lower. There is a fine line between too much nutrient and too little. Some streams have too little and they therefore become kind of sterile and all of that.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: Were there nutrients on the bank that do the river good or do they all do them good just in?

Joe Pitts, James River Basin Partnership: Good and bad are relative terms. Like I said, the river needs a certain amount of nutrients. If the bank has a lot of open space and there’s soil just eroding in the river. that’s not as good of a situation as a treed area so the more trees and grass and vegetation you can have along the riparian area of the river, the less nutrient actually makes it into the stream and the trees also with their roots block sediment erosion basically from happening. Just the dynamics of the river, rivers want to spread out and the trees along the riparian area are the counter force to that.

Brett Martin, KOLR10: Well Joe, again another great day out here and we can only hope for the sun to continue to shine like it is now and learn more and more about the water system that we have here in the Ozarks.

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