Lower Mississippi River

Lower Mississippi River

Infobox River | river_name = Lower Mississippi River

caption = The Lower Mississippi River
Towboats, barges and ships near New Orleans.
origin = Cairo, Illinois (confluence of Ohio River and Upper Mississippi River)
mouth = Gulf of Mexico
basin_countries = US
length = 1600 km (1000 mi)
elevation = 96 m (315 ft)
discharge =
The Lower Mississippi River is the portion of the Mississippi River downstream of Cairo, Illinois. From the confluence of the Ohio River and Upper Mississippi River at Cairo, the Lower flows just under 1600 kilometers (1000 mi) to the Gulf of Mexico. [cite book
title=Names and Places on the Mississippi River
publisher=Mississippi River Commission
] It is the most heavily travelled component of the Mississippi River System. [cite web
title=Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center
work=Navigation Data Center

Unlike on the upper rivers, there are no locks or dams on the Lower Mississippi. The river is, however, constrained by levees and dikes to control flooding and secure a navigation channel for barges. [cite web
title=The Mississippi and Its Uses
work=Rock Island District Engineers
] The Old River Control Structure, the Bonnet Carré Spillway, and other man-made structures on the lower reaches of the river seek to manipulate the flow of water in the vicinity of New Orleans. [cite web
title=The Mississippi River and Tributaries Project
work=US Army Corps of Engineers

The political and engineering focus in the 20th century was to separate the Lower Mississippi River from its floodplain. Levees and channelization—along with substantial loss of bottomland forests to agriculture in the alluvial valley—have resulted in a loss of wildlife and fish habitat, decreased water quality, and an expansion of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Agricultural runoff has resulted in increased turbidity, siltation, pollution from pesticides, toxicity to aquatic organisms, oxygen depletion and eutrophication. [cite web
title=Background on Lower Mississippi River Basin
work=EPA: Mississippi River Basin & Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

ee also

* List of crossings of the Lower Mississippi River


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