Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (2022)

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (1)

Two hundred miles north of New Orleans, in the heart of swampy Cajun country, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1963 cut a rogue arm of the Mississippi River in half with giant levees to keep the main river intact and flowing to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Old River Control Structure, as it was dubbed, is also the linchpin of massive but delicate locks and pulsed flows that feed the largest bottomland hardwood forests and wetlands in the United States, outstripping thebetter-known Okefenokee Swamp that straddles Georgia and Florida.

Clouds of birds — hundreds of species — live in or travel through Louisiana’s rich Atchafalaya forests each year, said National Audubon Society Delta Conservation Director Erik Johnson. They includegawky pink roseate spoonbills, tiny bright yellow warblers, known as swamp candles because of their bright glow in the humid, green woods, and more.

This summer, as seven states and Mexico push to meet a Tuesday deadline to agree on plans to shore up the Colorado River and itsshrivelingreservoirs, retired engineer Don Siefkes of San Leandro, California,wrote a letter to The Desert Sun with what he said was asolution to the West's water woes: build an aqueduct from the Old River Control Structure to Lake Powell, 1,489 miles west, to refill the Colorado River system with Mississippi River water.

“Citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi south of the Old River Control Structure don’t need all that water. All it does is cause flooding and massive tax expenditures to repair and strengthen dikes,” wrote Siefkes.”New Orleans has a problem with that much water anyway, so let’s divert 250,000 gallons/secondto Lake Powell, which currently has a shortage of 5.5 trillion gallons. This would take 254 days to fill.”

The letter and others with an array of ideasgenerated hugeinterest from readers around the country— and debate about whether the conceptsare technically feasible, politically possible orenvironmentally wise. Seeking answers,The Desert Sun consultedwater experts, conservation groups and government officials for their assessments.

Engineers said the pipelineidea is technically feasible. But water expertssaid it would likely take at least 30 years to clear legal hurdles to such a plan. And biologists andenvironmental attorneys saidNew Orleans and the Louisiana coast, along with the interior swamplands, need every drop of muddy Mississippi water.

The massive river, with tributaries from Montanato Ohio, is a national artery for shipping goodsout to sea. And contrary to Siefkes' claims, experts said, the silty river flows provide sediment critical to shore up the rapidly disappearing Louisiana coast andbarrier islands chewed to bits by hurricanes and sea rise. Scientists estimate a football field's worth of Louisiana coast is lost every 60 to 90 minutes.Major projects to restore the coast and save brown pelicans and other endangered species are now underway, and Mississippi sediment delivery is at the heart of them.

Siphon off a big portion, and “you’d be swapping oneecological catastrophe for another,” said Audubon’s Johnson.

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (2)

Read it on Reddit

Nonetheless, Siefkes’ trans-basin pipeline proposal went viral, receiving nearly half a million views. It’s one of dozens of letters the paperhas received proposing or vehemently opposing schemes to fix the crashing Colorado River system, which provides water to nearly 40 million people and farms in seven western states.

Fueled by Google and other search engines, more than 3.2 millionpeople have read the letters, an unprecedented number for the regional publication's opinion content.

Many sawSiefkes' idea and others like it as sheer theft by a region that needs to fix its own woes.

“Let's be really clear here. As a resident of Wisconsin, a state that borders the (Mississippi) river, let me say: This is never gonna happen,” wrote Margaret Melville of Cedarburg, Wisconsin.“What states in the Southwest have failed to do is curtail growth and agriculture that is, of course, water-driven."

But desert defenders pushed back. John Neely ofPalm Desert responded: "All of these river cities who refuse to give us their water can stop snowbirding to the desert to use our water. The snowbirds commonly stay here for at least six months. Do they thank us for using our water? No.Dothey pay extra for using our water? No.They’re all such hypocrites. My water, your water. My state, your state. Last time I heard, we are still the United States of America."

(Video) Divert of the Mississippi River is Seen as the Only Solution to the Lake Mead Drought

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (3)

Haul icebergs south? Manufacture rain?

Yahoo, Reddit and ceaseless headlines about a 22-year megadrought and killer flash floods, not to mention dead bodies showing up on Lake Mead’s newly exposed shoreline, have galvanized reader interest this summer.

But grand ideas for guaranteeing water for the arid Westhave beenfloated for decades.Haul icebergs from the Arctic to a new southern California port.Runa giant hose from the Columbia River along the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to refill Diamond Valley Reservoir. Grab hydrogen and oxygen from the air and make artificialrain.

As zany as the ideas may sound, could anywork, and if so, what would be the costs?

Experts say there’s a proverbial snowball’s chance in August of most of theseschemes being implemented. Physically, some could be achieved. This is the country that built the Hoover Dam, and where Los Angeles suburbs were created by taking water from Owens Lake. From winter lettuce in grocery stores to the golf courses of the Sun Belt, the West’s explosive growth over the past century rests on aqueducts, canals and drainage systems.

The bigger obstacles are fiscal, legal, environmentaland most of all, political.

"The engineering is feasible. Absolutely. You couldbuild a pipeline from the Mississippi or Missouri Rivers. Would itbe expensive? Yes. Do we have the political will? Absolutely not," said Meena Westford, executive director of Colorado River resource policy for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California."I think that societally, we want to be more flexible. We want to have more sustainable infrastructure. So moving water that far away to supplement the ColoradoRiver, I don't think is viable. But it's doable. You could do it."

In fact, she and others noted, many such ideas have been studied since the 1940s. Most recently, in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation produced a report laying out a potentially grim future for the Colorado River, and had experts evaluate 14 big ideas commonly touted as potential solutions.

The conceptsfell into a few large categories: pipe Mississippi or Missouri River water to the eastern sideof the Rockies or to Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border, bring icebergs in bags, on container ships or via trucks to Southern California, pump water from the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest to California via a subterranean pipeline on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, or replenish the headwaters of the Green River, the main stem of the Colorado River, with water from tributaries.

While they didn’t outright reject the concepts, the experts laid out multi-billion-dollar price tags, including ever-higher fuel and power costs to pump water up mountains or over other geographic obstacles. They also concluded environmental and permitting reviews would take decades.

"To my mind, the overriding fatal flaw for large import schemes is the time required to become operational. A multi-state pipeline could easily require decades before it delivers a drop of water," said Michael Cohen, senior researcher with the Pacific Institute. He said the most pragmatic approach would only pump Midwest water to the metro Denver area, to substitute forimports to the Front Range on the east side of the Rockies, avoiding "staggering" costs to pump water over the Continental Divide.

But Denver officials have expressed skepticism,because Missouri or Mississippi water isof inferior quality to pure mountain water.

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (4)

The biggest of them all

Not mentioned was the great grand-daddy of all schemes for re-allocating water, known as the North American Water and Power Authority Plan.Developed in 1964 by engineer Ralph Parsons and his Pasadena-basedParsons Corporation,the plan would provide 75million acre-feet of water to arid areas inCanada, the United States and Mexico. An acre-foot is enough water to serve about two households for a year, so it could supply water to 150 million customers.

The total projected cost of the plan in 1975 was $100 billion — or nearly $570billion in today's dollars,comparable to theInterstate Highway System. The project would require more than 300 new dams,canals, pipelines, tunnels, and pumping stations. Its largestdam would be 1,700 feet tall, more than twice the height of Hoover Dam.

Parsons said theplanwould replenishthe upper Missouri and Mississippi Rivers during dry spells, increase hydropower along the Columbia Riverand stabilize the Great Lakes.Heproposed usingnuclear explosionsto excavate the system's trenches and underground water storage reservoirs.

(Video) 13 Examples Of Hygiene Habits During The Wild West

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, prodded by members of Congressfrom western states, studied the massive proposal. Ultimately the rising environmental movement squelched it —the project woulddestroyvast wildlife habitats in Canada and the American West,submergewild rivers in Idaho and Montana,and requirethe relocation of hundreds of thousands of people.

Environmental writerMarc Reisner said the plan was one of "brutal magnificence" and "unprecedented destructiveness." Historian Ted Steinberg said itsummed up "the sheer arrogance and imperial ambitions of the modern hydraulic West."

But the idea hasnever completely died. In 1982,efforts were made to revive the plan by a Parsons company engineer, and the Lyndon Larouche movement supported itas recently as 2010.

In China, the massiveSouth-to-North Water Diversion Projectis the largest such project ever undertaken. Inspired by Mao Zedong, who in 1952 observed, "The south has plenty of water and the north lacks it, so if possible why not borrow some?" and planned for completion in 2050, it willdivert 44.8 billion cubic metersof water annually to major cities and agricultural and industrial centers in the parchednorth.

When finished, the $62 billion project will link China’s four main rivers and requiresconstruction of three lengthy diversion routes, one using as its basethe1,100-mile longHangzhou-to-Beijing canal, which dates from the 7th century AD.

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (5)

Meanwhile, watershed states in the U.S., and even counties havetaken actionto preventsuch schemes.

The Great Lakes Compact, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008,bans large waterexportsoutside of the areawithout the approval of all eight states bordering them andinput fromOntario and Quebec.

Other legal constraints include the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Protection Act and variousstate environmental laws, said Brent Newman, senior policy director for the National Audubon Society's Delta state programs.A Mississippi pipeline to Lake Powell would need to cut across four states, he and Johnson said, including hundreds of miles of wetlands in Louisiana and west Texas.

Large amounts of fossil fuelenergy neededto pump water over the Rockies would increase the very climate change that’s exacerbating the 1,200-year drought afflicting the Colorado River in the first place, said Newman, who in his previous job helped the state of Colorado design a long-term water conservation plan. At comment sessions on Colorado's plan, he said, long-distance pipelines wereconstantly suggested by the public.

"Sometimes there is a propensity in areas like Louisiana or the Southwest, where we've had such success in our engineering marvels, to engineer our way out of everything," Newman said."I don't think that drought, especially in the era of climate change, is something we can engineer our way out of."

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (6)

Arizona oceanfront

Butbig water infrastructure projects aren't just of interest to the general public. Arizona, which holds "junior"rights to Colorado River water, meaning it has already been forced to make cuts and might be legally required to make far larger reductions, wants to build a bi-national desalination plant at the Sea of Cortez, which separates Baja California from the Mexican mainland. The resulting fresh water would bepiped northto the thirsty state.

Such major infrastructure “is an absolute necessity,” said Tom Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, who said he “represents the governor on all things Colorado River.”

Arizona's legislature allocated$1 billion in its last session for water augmentation projectslikea possible desalination plant, and state officials are in discussions with Mexican officials about the idea, saidBuschatzke.

The state also set aside funds in 2018 to study possible imports from the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, but to date, the study hasn’t been done, he said.

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Others said the costs of an Arizona-Mexico desalination plant would also likely prove infeasible.

"The desalinationplant Arizona has scoped out would be by far the largest ever in North America,"said Jennifer Pitt, National Audubon Society's Colorado River program director.Pitt, who was a technical adviser on Reclamation's2012 report,decried ceaselesspipeline proposals. "Nebraska wants to build a canal to pull water from the SouthPlatte River in Colorado, and downstream, Colorado wants to take water from the Missouri River and pull it back across Nebraska. It boggles the mind. I can't even imagine what it would all cost."

Westford of Southern California's Metropolitan Water District agreed."Arizona really, really wants oceanfront," she chuckled. "Mexico has said it didn't... although there has been a recent change ingovernment."

But Westford and her colleague Brad Coffey, water resources manager,said desalination is needed in the Golden State. Despite the recent defeat of a major plant in Huntington Beach, after the California Coastal Commission said it was too environmentally damaging, "ocean desalination can't be off the table," said Coffey.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom also touted desalination in adrought resilience plan he announcedlast week, though in brackish inland areas. All three officials said the construction of a45-mile Delta Water Project tunnel to keep supply flowing from the middle of the state to thirsty cities in the south isvital. That project, which also faces heavy headwinds from environmentalists, wouldcost an estimated $12 billion.

Coffey said the project isn't really a pipeline, but more "a bypass for ... an aging 60-year-old"system.

Official no comments

Asked about a Mississippi River pipeline or other new infrastructure to rescue the Colorado River, federal and state officials declined to respondor said there was no realistic chance such a major infrastructure project is in the offing.

California Departmentof Water Resourcesspokeswoman Maggie Maciasin an email: “In considering the feasibility of a multi-state water conveyance infrastructure, the extraordinary costs that would be involved in planning, designing, permitting, constructing, and then maintaining and operating such a vast system of infrastructure would be significant obstacles when compared to the water supply benefits and flood water reduction benefits that it would provide. ... Instead, California is focused on better managing the water we have, improving forecasting, and making our groundwater basins more sustainable.”

The agency is moving forward with smallerprojects across the state to reduce seismic and hydrologic risks, like eliminating leaks or seepage, including at four existing dams and related spillways in Riverside and Los Angeles counties.

Asked what might be the requirements and constraints of a pipeline from the Mississippi River to the Colorado River, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Gene Pawliksaid, “Since (the Army Corps) has not done a formal study related to the use of pipelines to move water between watersheds, we cannot speculate on the details or cost of such projects.”

But pipelines and other big ideaswill always attract interest, hydrology experts said, because they falsely promise an innovative, easy way out.

“I have dystopian nightmares aboutpipelines marching across the landscape,” saidglobal water scarcity expert Jay Famiglietti. "People are spoiled in the United States. We've had relatively rich resources for so long,we've never really had to deal withthis before, andwe don't want to change."

As apractical matter, Famiglietti, a Universityof Saskatchewan hydrology professor who tracks water basins worldwide via NASA satellite data, saidMississippi River states also experiencedry spells, and the watershed, the fourth largest in the world, also ebbs and flows.

Pipe dream or possible? Experts weigh in on idea of sending Mississippi River water to West (7)

Real solutions

So what are the solutions to the arid West's dilemma, as climate change heats up and California's State Water Project, along with Lake Mead and Lake Powell, shrivels due to reduced snowmelt and rainfall?

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Famiglietti saidit's time for a national water policy, not to figure out where to lay down hundreds of pipesbut to look comprehensively at the intertwining of agriculture and the lion's share ofwater it uses.

For him, thatincludessetting aside at leastportions of the so-called "Law of the River," a complicated, century-old set of legal agreements that guarantees farmers in Southern California the largest share of water.

"Should we move the water to where the food is grown, or is it maybe time to think about moving the food production to the water?" he said.

In southeastern California,officials at the Imperial Irrigation District, which is entitled toby far the largest share of Colorado River water, say any move to strip theirrights would result in legal challenges that could last years. General Manager Henry Martinez also warned that cutting water to Imperial Valley farmers and nearby Yuma County, Arizona, could lead to a food crisis as well as a water crisis.

Martinez, an engineer who oversaw the construction of pipelines in the Sierra Nevada for Southern California Edison, agrees a 1,500-mile pipeline from the Mississippicould physically be built. But, he said, the days of mega-pipelines in the U.S. are likely over due to lack of environmental and political will.

Famiglietti also said while oil companies are willing to spend millions because their product yields high profits per gallon, that's not the case with water, typically considered a public resource.

Tapping waste to fill taps

Famiglietti said as long as urban areas in the West don't persist in untrammeled growth, they have enough supply for the immediate future, with the ability to rip out lawns, capture stormwater runoff in local reservoirs, do municipal audits to fix leaks and other tools. But if areas like the Coachella Valley continue to approve surf waveparks and "beachfront" developments in the desert, "we're screwed," he said bluntly.

Los Angeles-area water districts have implemented much of what Famiglietti mentioned. Water use has gone down 40% per capita in recent years, said Coffey.

"I'm an optimist," said Coffey, who said local conservation is key.

He said a major wastewater reuse project that MWD plans to implement by 2032 could ultimately yield up 150 million gallons of potable water a day from treated waste.It willtake liquid sewage, treat it, and either percolate it back into area groundwater, or, if California law is changed,pipe itto water tanks across the basin.He said wastewater reuse by area agencies has already swelled from 0.20% in the 1980sto 12% of regional water supply.

The idea of drinking even heavily treated liquid wastemay seem unpalatable, but Westfordthinks people will adapt. She points to her earlyworkfor comparison.

"I started withtoilets, I was the toilet queen of L.A.," said Westford. She and others worked to persuade reluctant consumers, builders and policymakers to ditchwidely usedsix-gallon flush toilets in favor of perfectly effective two-gallon versions. She said extensive public education, aided by federal mandates and financial incentives, eventually led toa wholesale transition that saves millions of gallons of water.

"My son will never know what a six-gallon toilet looks like," she said.

An earlier version of this story misidentified for which agency Jennifer Pitt was a technical adviser. It was the Bureau of Reclamation.

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Janet Wilson is senior environment reporter for The Desert Sun, and co-authors USA Today'sClimate Point newsletter. She can be reached at jwilson@gannett.com or @janetwilson66 on Twitter

FAQs

Who owns the water in the Mississippi River? ›

All states (31 states) east of the Mississippi River have water allocation laws based on the Riparian Doctrine. Any waterway that can be used for navigation in its normal condition is considered navigable. If it is only used for intrastate commerce or transport, it is under control of that state.

How long would it take the Mississippi River to fill Lake Mead? ›

“Lake Mead has a somewhat larger shortage, about 8 trillion gallons, but it could be filled in about 370 days at 250,000 gallons/sec.” Although not vetted yet by scientists, the seemingly outlandish idea has become a viral proposal online.

Who Mapped the Mississippi River? ›

Upon Pike's return to St. Louis in April 1806, Anthony Nau compiled a large, four-sheet manuscript map of the Upper Mississippi River, based on Pike's field notes and sketch maps.

What does the Mississippi River dump into? ›

The Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles (160 km) downstream from New Orleans. Measurements of the length of the Mississippi from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico vary somewhat, but the United States Geological Survey's number is 2,340 miles (3,770 km).

How far up the Mississippi can ships go? ›

The change has East Coast and Gulf Coast ports increasing the depth of their terminals to 50 feet to accommodate modern container ships built to the new guidelines. 950 ft.

How long would it take to boat down the Mississippi River? ›

How Long Does It Take To Travel The Mississippi River By Boat? The amount of time spent depends on the type of boat used. However, it can take as little as 14 days and up to 50 days. Non-power boats would take longer.

How long will Lake Mead last? ›

But it predicts that Lake Mead will continue to plummet through 2025 and dip into “dead pool” territory multiple times over the next 50 years.

Will Lake Mead ever fill back up? ›

As a result, growing demand, relentless shortage, and climate change are creating an average water deficit of almost 1 million acre-feet a year in the Colorado River system. Both Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs are half empty, and scientists predict that they will probably never fill again.

What happens if Lake Mead runs out of water? ›

Such an event would have an enormous impact on San Diego County where half of the region's total water supply relies on the Colorado River. Other areas of the Southwest could also be severely affected. Regional agricultural use of water could be eliminated, impacting the nation's food supply.

How deep is the Mississippi river? ›

Can you swim in the Mississippi river? ›

If you're wondering what's lurking beneath the murky surface of this iconic American waterway, you're not alone. While it might be safe for a quick dip, swimming in the Mississippi River is generally not recommended due to its high levels of pollution.

Is the Mississippi river clean? ›

Current Status and Research. Stretches of the Mississippi River within the park corridor exceed water quality standards for mercury, bacteria, sediment, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), and nutrients. Unfortunately, these "impairments" can make the water unsuitable for fishing, swimming, and drinking.

Why is the Mississippi River so toxic? ›

But the river is polluted with nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer runoff from Iowa and other farm states, contributing to a massive dead zone that's unable to support aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, the dead zone was about the size of Hawaii.

Where is the deepest part of the Mississippi River? ›

The deepest point on the Mississippi River is located near Algiers Point in New Orleans and is 200 feet in depth.

Can you boat down the entire Mississippi River? ›

Just like there's more than one way to skin a cat, traveling the entire length Mississippi River can be done in a number of fashions. Every year, in fact, hundreds of people “thru-boat” Old Man River in everything from handmade rafts to luxury yachts.

How far up the Mississippi do sharks go? ›

Bull sharks are euryhaline and can thrive in both salt and fresh water. They are known to travel far up rivers, and have been known to travel up the Mississippi River as far as Alton, Illinois, about 1,100 kilometres (700 mi) from the ocean, but few freshwater interactions with humans have been recorded.

Can container ships navigate the Mississippi river? ›

The Lower Mississippi from St. Louis to the Port of New Orleans has no locks or dams and allows barges up to 7x6 or 42 barge units per tow. Oceangoing ships with drafts of 45 feet and height clearances over 150 feet can navigate the waters up to Baton Rouge.

How much does it cost to take a Mississippi River cruise? ›

How much does a Mississippi River cruise cost? Mississippi River cruises cost between $1,300 and $5,000 per person, but the average price of a Mississippi River cruise is about $2,400 per person for a 9-day itinerary.

Can you jet ski down the Mississippi River? ›

Downriver, there are the added dangers of alligators and migratory bullsharks. “To fall off a Jet Ski, or any boat, in the Mississippi River is to fall into something that is highly treacherous and unforgiving,” Dooley told me. “It's too dangerous.”

Is it safe to kayak down the Mississippi River? ›

Yes, the Mississippi River is notoriously hazardous. And yes, unfortunately a lot of people have gone out and not come back. The river and its tributaries have probably claimed more lives than all other rivers in North America put together.

Can you live on a houseboat on the Mississippi River? ›

The good news is - yes. Houseboat owners are allowed to move up and down the Mississippi river, provided they do not get in the way of passing vessels, wharves, or boat ramps on the river.

What will happen to Las Vegas if Lake Mead dries up? ›

Las Vegas would be left high and dry

No one is more concerned about Lake Mead's plummeting water levels than Sin City. Las Vegas — a sprawling Nevada metropolis with a population of two million people and 40 million tourists a year — relies on Lake Mead for a shocking 90% of its water, per the National Park Service.

What's at the bottom of Lake Mead? ›

In the case of Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir, diminishing waters have in recent months uncovered long buried secrets and other mysterious finds: at least three sets of human remains, including a body inside a barrel that could be linked to a mob killing, and a sunken boat dating back to the second world war.

What states are running out of water? ›

The 7 States That Are Running Out Of Water

These states include: Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico and Nevada as well. So what does this mean for us?

How deep is Lake Mead right now? ›

Lake Mead is shrinking

It was considered a magnificent achievement at the time. But, as of July 31, 2022, Lake Mead's water level has dropped to 1,040.92 feet (317.3 meters), continuing a 22-year downward trend. The retreating lake is revealing things hidden underwater for decades.

How long will the Hoover Dam last? ›

While the dam is expected to last for centuries, engineers predict the structure could last for more than 10,000 years, surpassing most remnants of human civilization if humans were to disappear from the earth.

How deep was Lake Mead at its deepest? ›

How long until Vegas runs out of water? ›

Southern Nevada receives 300,000 acre feet from Lake Mead. By comparison, California gets 4.4 million and Arizona 2.8 million. An acre-foot provides approximately enough water for two Las Vegas homes for 16 months.

What has been found in Lake Mead 2022? ›

Human remains found in receding Lake Mead identified as man who reportedly drowned two decades ago, officials say. Gas leak at Nord Stream 2 as seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark September 27, 2022.

Are there alligators in Lake Mead? ›

We do know that a 3-1/2 foot alligator was caught in the lake at Sunset Park in 2009. And just last year, a fisherman at Sunset Park claimed he saw something large pop up and eat a duck.

Are there alligators in the Mississippi River in New Orleans? ›

There are alligators in the Mississippi River. These wild animals can be dangerous, and should always be avoided. Swimmers should never enter the water if they see an alligator, and should immediately leave the area if one is spotted.

What is the shallowest part of the Mississippi River? ›

At its headwaters, Lake Itasca in Minnesota, the river's depth is 18 inches (3 feet). It's the shallowest point of the river. The deepest point is Algiers Point in New Orleans, Louisiana where it is 200 feet deep (61 meters).

What's the cleanest river in the United States? ›

1. San Marcos River in Texas. The San Marcos River is clear because it is fed by a freshwater spring. Not only is this water clear, but it is also extraordinarily clean.

How many alligators are in the Mississippi river? ›

Once considered an endangered species in the late 1960s, American Alligators have made a big comeback in the swampy marsh areas surrounding the Mississippi River. It is estimated that there are just over 30,000 alligators in Mississippi, with most centralized in the southern portion of the state.

How many people have been found in the Mississippi river? ›

The remains of at least 7,000 people may be buried beneath the University of Mississippi, officials estimate.

How long would it take to canoe down the Mississippi river? ›

Some people might want to take four months or more. Really fast people might be able to do it in less than two months. If you don't know how fast of a paddler you are, I'd allow at least 3 months. The river's speed depends a lot on water levels.

Can you eat fish from the Mississippi river? ›

“We don't have any advisories on the Mississippi. It's safe to eat the fish there,” says Langley. Langley says the state is concerned with other waterways in the state more than the Mississippi.

Has anyone swam across the Mississippi river? ›

This makes the 28-year-old Navy combat veteran the first American to swim the entire 2,350 miles of the Mississippi River. Only Martin Strel, a Slovenian long-distance swimmer, has completely conquered The Big Muddy. Ring's effort is on behalf of Legacies Alive, a nonprofit that honors fallen military members.

What is the dirtiest river in the world? ›

The Citarum river in West Java is considered the dirtiest river in the world. Textile factories discharge tons of untreated toxic waste into the river every day. Local residents also treat the river as a dumping ground, using the waters to dispose of excrement and household waste.

Why is the water so dirty in Louisiana? ›

Land runoff from farms and home sewage systems is the greatest threat to Louisiana's waterways, according to a new analysis from the Environmental Integrity Project, a national nonpartisan watchdog.

Can you swim in the Mississippi river in Louisiana? ›

It ends about 100 miles downstream from New Orleans. The river reaches 191 feet deep in the French Quarter- the maximum depth of the entire river. Because the current is so strong and the water is muddy, you cannot swim in it.

Is the Mississippi River the longest river in the world? ›

Some describe the Mississippi River as being the third longest river system in the world, if the length of Missouri and Ohio Rivers are added to the Mississippi's main stem.

How many rivers is the largest in the world? ›

RankRiverOutflow
1.Nile–White Nile–Kagera–Nyabarongo–Mwogo–RukararaMediterranean
2.Amazon–Ucayali–Tambo–Ene–MantaroAtlantic Ocean
3.Yangtze–Jinsha–Tongtian–Dangqu (Chang Jiang)East China Sea
4.Mississippi–Missouri–Jefferson–Beaverhead–Red Rock–Hell RoaringGulf of Mexico
48 more rows

How deep is the deepest part of the ocean? ›

Can you kayak the entire length of the Mississippi river? ›

It is one of the world's grandest rivers, and it's possible to paddle the entire length without serious risk and with very few hassles. Mark Twain put it on the map as an American literary landmark. It passes through diverse physical and cultural landscapes.

How long does it take a barge to go down the Mississippi river? ›

It's not a long journey. Depending on boat traffic, a round trip usually lasts three to four days. From the boat launch at Harahan, the crew will pick up six barges full of rock, push them through heavy traffic past the city of New Orleans, and steer through the Algiers Lock onto the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

How far up the Mississippi can ships go? ›

The change has East Coast and Gulf Coast ports increasing the depth of their terminals to 50 feet to accommodate modern container ships built to the new guidelines. 950 ft.

Does the government own the Mississippi River? ›

The National Park Service has revised rules affecting the use of nine Mississippi River islands and the Coldwater Unit it owns within the 72-mile Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

Is the Mississippi international waters? ›

The U.S. recognizes the territorial waters of Mississippi out to nine nautical miles this year.

How deep is the Mississippi River at its deepest? ›

From its source, Lake Itasca, to its end, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River drops 1,475 feet. The deepest point on the Mississippi River is located near Algiers Point in New Orleans and is 200 feet in depth.

Which river is called father of waters? ›

Named by Algonkian-speaking Indians, Mississippi can be translated as "Father of Waters." The river, the largest in North America, drains 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces, and runs 2,350 miles from its source to the Gulf of Mexico.

Can you swim in the Mississippi River? ›

If you're wondering what's lurking beneath the murky surface of this iconic American waterway, you're not alone. While it might be safe for a quick dip, swimming in the Mississippi River is generally not recommended due to its high levels of pollution.

Who owns the land in MS? ›

The federal government owns 5.04 percent of Mississippi's total land, 1,523,573 acres out of 30,222,720 total acres. Mississippi ranked 25th in the nation in federal land ownership.

How deep is the Mississippi River? ›

Is the Mississippi River the longest river in the world? ›

Some describe the Mississippi River as being the third longest river system in the world, if the length of Missouri and Ohio Rivers are added to the Mississippi's main stem.

Can you canoe the entire Mississippi River? ›

It is one of the world's grandest rivers, and it's possible to paddle the entire length without serious risk and with very few hassles. Mark Twain put it on the map as an American literary landmark. It passes through diverse physical and cultural landscapes.

Is there alligators in the Mississippi River? ›

Once considered an endangered species in the late 1960s, American Alligators have made a big comeback in the swampy marsh areas surrounding the Mississippi River. It is estimated that there are just over 30,000 alligators in Mississippi, with most centralized in the southern portion of the state.

How many people have been found in the Mississippi River? ›

The remains of at least 7,000 people may be buried beneath the University of Mississippi, officials estimate.

What is the deepest river in the world? ›

From its tributaries to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, the massive river includes rapids, wetlands, floodplains, lakes and swamps. In addition, the Congo River is the world's deepest recorded river at 720 feet (220 meters) deep in parts — too deep for light to penetrate, The New York Times reported.

Which river is called Mother of water? ›

The Mekong River is called the "mother of waters" because it is such a tremendous resource for such a large number of people.

Which river is known as river of Death? ›

Shyok River

Which river is called Mother of river? ›

The Mekong River, also known as the 'Mother of Rivers' in Laos and Thailand, is the 12th longest river in the world.

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