Fishery Resources, Environment, and Conservation in the Mississippi and Yangtze (Changjiang) River Basins

Managing the Mississippi River in a Nonstationary World: Past Practices and Future Challenges

Jonathan W. F. Remo

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874448.ch11

Abstract.—Substantial investment in the engineering of the Mississippi River and its tributaries over the past ~200 years by the U.S. federal government has resulted in its transformation into one of the most regulated and intensively managed river systems in the world. The regulation and management of the Mississippi River system for a select set of ecosystem services has provided substantial economic benefits to the United States. These economic benefits include the transportation of goods, the reduction of flood risk to floodplain communities and agricultural lands, securing or increasing water supply, and reliable energy production. However, these benefits have come with substantial externalities such as altered hydrology, altered river hydraulics, decreased sediment load, changes in the pattern of delta sedimentation, increased nutrient loads, reduced habitat diversity, decreased ecological diversity, and degraded water quality. In this chapter, the natural, management, and engineering histories of the Mississippi River are reviewed. The purpose of this review is to describe the evolution of river management for harnessing the current services the river provides and the environmental and social externalities resulting from the management actions. It is hoped this holistic review of the Mississippi River will assist in leading toward a more complete and integrated vision for the management of this coupled natural–human river system.