Lower Mississippi River

Lower Mississippi River

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Lower Mississippi River

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<!-- NOTE TO EDITORS: PLEASE CITE YOUR SOURCES! SEE: Footnotes-->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.



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.

The political and engineering focus in the 20th century was to separate the Lower Mississippi River from its floodplain. Levees and channelization&mdash;along with substantial loss of bottomland forests to agriculture in the alluvial valley&mdash;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.

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