Rivers in the conterminous United States discharge an average of about 1.3 million tons of sediment every day according to a report released by the U.S. Geological Survey. The report notes that most of this soil and rock debris is dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi River alone discharges about 245 million tons of sediment every year into the Gulf, which is almost as much as all other U.S. rivers combined.
USGS hydrologist, William F. Curtis, senior author of the report, said: ‘Knowledge of the amount of sediment transported by our rivers is important for a variety of reasons. For example, because sediment yields are an indication of the rates of erosion in a basin, they can be used to assess land use practices and to plan reservoirs with enough space to store the expected sediment accumulations and still function effectively as water reservoirs. Similarly, sediment yields are a good indication of the amount of sediment that must be dredged from harbors and channels to maintain navigation depths.’