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River Management Case Study on The Mississippi.

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Assignment 5 - River Management Case Study For a named river basin a. outline the ways in which this river has been managed by man b. explain the effects this has had upon the rivers features and processes. The River Mississippi: The Mississippi along with the Colorado is one of the most managed rivers in the world. It is one of the longest rivers in the world as it stretches 3800km across North America from Canada to the Atlantic Ocean. Along this very long stretch much management has taken place. Even though the management of the river isn't as great as the Colorado its importance economically is much greater. The watershed of the Mississippi occupies 41% of the USA so its importance is huge. Flooding of the Mississippi would mean huge economic and environmental damage so there is great necessity to manage it to a great degree. The river is used for navigation to export 60% of all grain in the USA. Many large cities rely on the Mississippi for their water supply. But the use of the river for water has bad effects. There is great risk of flooding in these cities, a bit of a double edge sword. The worst of this flooding was in 1993. The Mississippi has been adapted and managed much throughout history and has accounted for the growth of major cities along its path. ...read more.


50 fatalities were suffered and over 10 000 homes were completely destroyed." www.cnn.com /archive/17263 (Properties of Central News Network (c) 1993 Another major source of management in the area is the diversions that man has created on the Mississippi. Considerable shortening and realignment of the river didn't begin until the early 20th century. In one area, a stretch of river on the 'Greenville Reach' was reduced from 84km to 32km in the years of 1933-1955. This included the cut-off of a meander, which shortened the river by an astonishing 30km. In the same time period the whole Mississippi was shortened by 243km. This meant that the rivers transportation was even better, and was commercially a success, but some suggest that this tampering with the river is a major cause of the flooding. In some areas the rivers course is now direct when it was previously full of meanders, a typical example of this can be seen below: But some feel that this is wrong, as the river has carved its path through history and has settled at this position for a reason. Some have argued that giving the river such a direct path allows the river to build up more energy than is natural causing problems of erosion down river. The quote shows some peoples view of the mass and diversity of the Mississippi management will have adverse effects as the different schemes do no necessarily compliment one another. ...read more.


These way problems are averted, and equilibrium is maintained. But are "Dams - A blessing or a curse?" p.34 in `AS Geogrpahy`, Phillip Allen Updates (Publisher) 2002 This is because these many dams can affect wetlands. The many dams on the Mississippi-Missouri Rivers have deprived wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico of sediment, exposing coastal Louisiana to devastating hurricanes. The environments of animals in the area are sacrificed for the dam's construction. Fish are unable to migrate and forced to stay as vulnerable prey in the dam's reservoir, as many bird habitats re created in the area. Some take an even more negative approach to dam building: "In a way all dam-based schemes are ultimately self-defeating..." From `River Management schemes` by John Pallister; Geofile 399. April 2001 People believe that in the long run dams are self-defeating, as the reasons they are created to prevent get worse. An easy example is HEP. Supposedly a clean and eco friendly power source, but to create the dam in the first place many hectares of forest was removed along Mississippi to create the Dams in the first place. Preventing the natural flooding of the drainage basin will produce infertile soils. So we can see that in the short term the dams seem to be the ideal solution for safety and economic gains but in the future these gains are lost. To summarise the many features of management: levees, reservoirs, channel diversions, dams, deflection structures and revetments all create a different range of effects on Americas third largest river. ...read more.

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