Shape of a River - Geomorphology
Consequences (pg 2 of
For more than 100 years, the U.S. government has
altered the channel of the Mississippi River to
enable the passage of towboats and barges as far
upstream as the Twin Cities.
First by constructing thousands of wingdams and
then through a massive system of 29 locks and dams,
the Corps of Engineers has created a consistent
nine-foot-deep channel to ship crops and other
goods from America's heartland to saltwater ports
on the Gulf.
Though the system moves millions of tons each
year (78.8 million tons in 2001), this expensive
public works project blocked the river's natural
hydrodynamic processes. The result: unintended
costs-both environmental and economic.