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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
Restoring Ups and Downs on the Mississippi
(pg 6 of 11)

Weaver Bottoms was typical of the river's decline. Backwaters that teemed with life in the 1940s and '50s, when the newly flooded reservoirs produced a fish and wildlife bonanza, had become shallow, barren lakes. Ironically, much of this decline occurred even as cities along the river cleaned up their sewage plants, improving water quality in long stretches of the river, such as downstream from the Twin Cities.

Attempts to engineer solutions on a small scale have generally failed. In the mid-1980s, the Corps plugged a dike to isolate Weaver Bottoms from the main channel. Then it built islands of dredged riverbed in the midst of the lake to reduce the wind fetch. The goal: to reduce the influx of muddy river water, improve water clarity in the Bottoms, and allow aquatic plants to take root.

The result was something else. After storms, the Whitewater River gushed into Weaver Bottoms, which now trapped the silt-laden outflow like dirty water in a bathtub. "We were unable to stop that process [of aging and decline] or even affect it at all," said Davis.

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Gulf of Mexico
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