Where Is The Mississippi River Found

Geography of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is one of the largest rivers in the world. It runs through 10 US states, covering 2,340 miles. Starting in Lake Itasca, the river flows to the Gulf of Mexico. It is the second-longest river in the US, after the Missouri River. The Mississippi drains approximately 40 percent of the entire US landmass in its path to the Gulf.

Environmental Impact of the Mississippi River

The Mississippi River is home to more than 230 species of fish, including the iconic paddlefish and the endangered pallid sturgeon. It supports millions of birds, mammals, and aquatic life. Human activities, however, have released pollutants into the river that can have negative impacts on these species. In one stretch alone, from Minneapolis to St. Louis, around 7 billion gallons of industrial waste are dumped into the river every day. As a result, the river is polluted with toxic chemicals and heavy metals, which can accumulate in the bodies of wildlife, endanger aquatic species and threaten the health of humans.

Economic Impact

More than 500 ports and terminals along the Mississippi River are used for transport, commercial fishing and energy production. This includes the giant Port of New Orleans and the expansive port of Baton Rouge. The river is also used for commercial barge transportation. These ports, in turn, are highly beneficial to the US economy. In 2014 alone, more than 500 million tons of cargo were transported through the Mississippi River ports, generating more than $400 billion in economic output.

Social Impact on People

The Mississippi River is a source of life and culture to millions of people. This is particularly true of the people living in the basin of the river and in the Mississippi Delta. Local residents use the river for sustenance, irrigation, and recreation. The river is a significant part of the identity for many communities, and its impact on their lives is unmistakable.


There has been a recent push for the conservation of the Mississippi River. The river’s abundant resources are essential for humans and wildlife alike and must be managed in a sustainable way. Over 60 million people rely on the river for their livelihoods and their continued existence depends on the conservation of the river and its ecosystems.

Co-management Initiatives

A major part of conservation efforts involve the management of the river and its resources collaboratively, through a range of co-management initiatives. These initiatives involve a diverse array of stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organizations, foundations, universities, and community groups. Together, these stakeholders work to reduce and mitigate the impacts of pollution and climate change on the river and its watershed and ensure sustainable management of the river.

Issues of Jurisdiction

The waters of the Mississippi River are subject to a complicated network of state, federal and international laws, which can complicate efforts to coordinate and manage the river. This problem is compounded by the differences in environmental regulations between the US states bordering the river.

Environmental Laws

Environmental laws in the US are designed to protect the environment and the quality of the waters of the Mississippi River. These laws are increasingly stringent, ensuring that exceedances of pollutants are reduced and transparency is maintained.

Climate Change

The effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent in the US, and the Mississippi River is no exception. The river is already receiving more rainfall than in years past, and its already high water levels may continue to rise. There are also predictions that the river could experience more extreme floods and droughts, with dire consequences for the ecosystems of the river and its basin.

Water Quality

The water quality of the Mississippi River is problematic in many areas, due to the presence of industrial chemicals and other pollutants. There are several programs in place to monitor and manage the water quality of the river and its tributaries. These programs track levels of pollutants and analyze the environmental impacts of varying water quality.

Rehabilitation and Restoration

In order to restore the Mississippi River to a healthier state and ensure its long-term survival, a series of rehabilitation and restoration projects are currently underway. These projects involve the removal of existing pollutants and the implementation of new regulatory standards, while also introducing measures to reduce future pollution.

Conclusion of Results

The Mississippi River is an important part of the US environment and economy, and it must be managed responsibly so as to preserve its many resources and promote its long-term viability. A range of stakeholders are involved in the management of the river, and they are working together to reduce pollution and restore the river to a healthier state.

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.

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