What’s Going On With Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States and is a major source of water for many states along the way. It is the home to a diverse ecosystem and provides vital economic and recreational activities for people who tap into its resources. In addition to the tremendous benefits that the Mississippi River provides, it faces many problems.

The primary concern of environmentalists is water pollution. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Mississippi River was one of the most polluted rivers in the United States. Sewage and oil spills, runoff from agricultural fields, industrial pollution, and untreated stormwater all contributed to the river’s notable decline. Even though some major initiatives initiated by the government helped cut down on the river’s pollution and replenish its oxygen levels, the river is still far from pristine.

Along with polluted water, the Mississippi River is experiencing higher levels of sedimentation. Lower Mississippi River sediment levels have almost doubled over the last century, due to continual surface erosion from activities such as farming and deforestation. This increased sedimentation affects the structure of the river and the wildlife, as it depletes the nutrients required by organisms to survive. This interference has also impacted water depth and temperature, which in turn could limit the fish species that can live there.

In addition to the environmental problems, the Mississippi River is threatened by poor land management practices. Flood plain management plays an essential role in connected river systems and the protection of human infrastructure. The riparian vegetation serves for water transport, water flow regulation, and erosion prevention, but when natural vegetation is cleared or removed, flooding and sediment run-off can be made worse. Consequently, populations throughout the Mississippi River basin continue to suffer from floods, as well as, nutrient and chemical contamination due to poor land use.

The Mississippi River has had a tumultuous past, and there are still many challenges that must be faced in order to protect it. This means that individuals, businesses and entire communities must come together to ensure its future. One way to do this is through public education and awareness. By educating people about the importance of water and land conservation and recycling, Mississippi River stakeholders can create a sustainable future for themselves and the environment.

Impact of Overfishing

Fish populations in the Mississippi River have been heavily impacted due to the amount of fishing pressure. Species like white bass, yellow bass, and even alligator gar are either harvested or have been eliminated in certain sections of the river. Additionally, a decline in the number of anglers has caused a decrease in funding to support the maintenance of hatcheries and other fisheries management activities.

Furthermore, the Tennessee Aquarium, located in the middle of the Mississippi River basin, conducts research to assess the effects of overfishing on various fish species. This is enabled through a citizen science program where volunteers collect data during fishing trips. This research helps them to understand how anglers are impacting fish populations and can hopefully bring solutions to this pressing issue.

One of the solutions Tennessee Aquarium is working on is to reduce the number of fish that are illegally taken. To do this, fish populations must be stocked in areas where fishing pressure is high. This will help to rebuild the damaged fish stocks and restore the species’ presence in the river.

Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl is the over expansion of residential and commercial development to the edges of cities and towns, resulting in a decrease of green spaces and the destruction of habitat. In the case of the Mississippi River, this form of development has resulted in the destruction of riparian habitats, increased potential for sediment and nutrient runoff, and disruption of the river’s natural flow.

To combat these problems, state and local government organisations have established policies and regulations to protect green spaces and encourage the preservation of wetlands. Additionally, there have been initiatives to create greenways along the river to create safe recreation areas. These greenways can be used for walking and cycling, as well as canoeing and wildlife watching.

Urban sprawl is a major issue for the Mississippi River, and one that needs to be addressed if its natural beauty is to be preserved for future generations.

Climate Change

Climate change is another major factor that is affecting the Mississippi River and its surrounding wildlife. Studies have indicated that climate change is leading to higher temperatures, levels of evaporation, and increased levels of precipitation.

These changes are impacting the river in numerous ways. For example, an increase in evaporation has led to a decrease in the river’s flow, which has caused a rise in water levels. Additionally, the increase in precipitation has caused flooding, which can take an enormous toll on the environment. Lastly, warmer temperatures can lead to an increase in species that weren’t previously found in the river, which can bring about competition for the natural resources in the area.

To tackle climate change, governments need to implement more progressive policies to reduce human-caused emissions. This can be done by investing in clean energy, providing incentives for electric-powered vehicles, and promoting eco-friendly building practices.

Regional Strategies

Regional strategies have proven to be effective in sustaining a healthy ecosystem in the Mississippi River. As part of these strategies, governance activities become critical in protecting the river’s resources, balancing multiple interests, and promoting an ecosystem approach to conservation. Through initiatives such as adaptive management and the implementation of regional policies, it is possible to reduce threats facing the Mississippi River.

Furthermore, regional efforts to protect the river can also help to build a sense of community and promote environmental stewardship. By working together, local stakeholders can create positive change and foster a relationship with the river that is beneficial for all.

One example of a regional initiative is the Upper Mississippi River Basin Restoration Program (UMRB). This program is dedicated to preserving, restoring, and managing the watershed for human and ecological health, as well as to prevent and mitigate the impacts of damaging activities such as erosion and sedimentation. Through this program, stakeholders can develop strategies to address the challenges facing the Mississippi River today.


The Mississippi River is an integral part of the United States and is experiencing multiple challenges that need to be addressed. To protect the river, stakeholders need to work together to create policies and strategies to prevent pollution, reduce overfishing, limit urban sprawl, and combat climate change. Through these collective efforts, the future of the Mississippi River can be secured for years to come.

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