What’s Causing The Mississippi River To Dry Up

The Mississippi River’s dwindling water levels have long been a source of concern for environmentalists and ecologists alike. But why is the river drying up? It turns out that a number of different factors are playing a role in the Mississippi’s decline. Climate change, agricultural water use, and invasive species are all combining forces to seriously threaten the Mississippi’s water levels.

Climate change has been an obvious factor in the decline of the river, as temperatures in the US have risen over the past century. This has resulted in more frequent and severe droughts, which affects the amount of water flow downstream. According to Dr. Mark Van Leer, a professor of geosciences at the University of Montana, “It’s thought that climate change is playing a big role in the decline of the Mississippi River.”

Agriculture is also having an effect. Since the 1930s the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) has managed the Mississippi’s water levels through the use of levees, locks and dams. Despite this, farmers and other agricultural producers have been using massive amounts of water from the river for irrigation, leading to less and less water in the Mississippi. This is causing the water levels to drop in some areas to levels that are dangerously low.

Finally, invasive species are taking a toll on the river. The zebra mussel, for example, is an invasive species that has spread to the waters of the Mississippi. These creatures are incredibly efficient filter feeders, and they can filter out large amounts of plankton, microorganisms and other organic matter from the water. This deprives other species of oxygen and food, which can drastically reduce the amount of life in the river.

These three factors, while all having serious effects on the Mississippi River, are not the only ones. Other environmental issues such as pollution and runoff also play a role. If we want to save the river, we will need to address all of these problems with a holistic approach, starting with reducing emissions, limiting agriculture use of the river and curbing the spread of invasive species.

The Impact of Climate Change

It is no secret that climate change has been having a major impact on the earth. This is, of course, true of the Mississippi River as well. As temperatures rise, more water evaporates from the river, leading to lower water levels downstream. This can be especially worrisome during drought periods, when the amount of water in the river is already low. A lack of water can cause problems for people and animals alike, making it all the more important that we take action to reduce our emissions.

According to Tim Koopman, a research associate at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, “It is essential that we reduce our emissions in order to protect the environment and ensure that the Mississippi River remains a viable source of water.” Reducing emissions is key to saving the river, and the sooner we take action the better.

Agriculture’s Growing Impact

Another factor in the decline of the Mississippi River is the use of riverside agricultural land. Farmers use the riverside land to irrigate crops, which can deplete the river’s water levels. This is especially true during drought periods, when the amount of water in the river is already low. The COE has done its best to manage the river’s water levels, but agricultural use of the river can still cause problems.

This is why it is important that we limit the amount of water used in agricultural production. This can be done through improved water-conserving irrigation systems, installing rainwater-capturing systems, and implementing stricter regulations on water usage. This is key to saving the Mississippi River and protecting its water levels.

Invasive Species & Pollution

Invasive species, such as the zebra mussel, are impacting the Mississippi River by disrupting the local ecosystem. The mussels filter out large amounts of plankton, microorganisms and other organic matter from the water, which can affect the amount of oxygen in the river. This can have a major impact on the life that depends on the river, including fish and birds. In addition, runoff from cities and farms can pollute the river, further impacting the environment.

In order to limit the impact of these invasive species, we must actively work to keep them out of the river. This can be done through better enforcement of regulations, improved public education, and increased investments in research. It is also important to reduce pollutants in the river, which can be done through improved wastewater treatment systems and better land management.

Working Together to Save the Mississippi

As we can see, there are many factors that are contributing to the decline of the Mississippi River. Climate change, agricultural water use, and invasive species are all taking their toll on the river’s water levels. If we want to save the river, we must address all of these problems head on.

This means reducing our emissions, limiting agricultural use of the river, and curbing the spread of invasive species. We must also reduce pollutants in the river, implement better wastewater treatment systems, and invest in public education. By working together and taking action, we can save the Mississippi River and ensure its future.

The Effects of Diversions

One way that the Mississippi River is being managed to save water is through river diversions. These are channels that are dug away from the main river and are used to move water from one part of the river to another. This can help reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation and can also help to keep water levels in different parts of the river more consistent.

However, while river diversions can be beneficial, they can also have unintended consequences. For example, diverting water can disrupt the migration of fish and other animals, as well as the natural flow of the river. It can also affect water quality, as some of the water that is diverted is not treated before being released back into the river.

For this reason, it is important to use river diversions responsibly and carefully consider their potential impacts. With careful management, river diversions can be used to help keep water levels in the Mississippi River more consistent and ensure a healthy river.

Alternate Solutions

In addition to managing the Mississippi River through diversions, there are other ways to ensure its health. Improved public education is key, as there is still a great deal of ignorance surrounding the river and its needs. By informing people about the importance of the Mississippi and the issues it faces, we can promote meaningful action to save the river.

In addition, the development of green infrastructure can be beneficial. This includes the planting of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation that can help to absorb rainfall and keep water from running off into the river. This can reduce the amount of pollutants in the water and also help to keep water levels more consistent.

Finally, investing in clean energy can help to reduce emissions and ensure that we are doing our part to protect the environment, including the Mississippi River. Natural gas, solar, and wind energy are all cleaner and have lower emissions than traditional energy sources, and investing in these can help keep the river healthy.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

Leave a Comment