Upstream Leads Downstream
Did you know the Missouri River is 2,540 miles long and the Mississippi River is 2,340 miles long? That’s 4,880 miles of river combined – about the same distance as driving from Los Angeles to Charlotte…and back again! The Missouri River begins in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana while the Mississippi River begins in Northern Minnesota. They meet just a few miles north of St. Louis, Missouri. From there, the Mississippi River continues its journey south – meeting up with the Ohio and Arkansas Rivers along the way – and empties out on the southern tip of Louisiana into the Gulf of Mexico.
Viewer Tip: The Mississippi River Watershed includes all or parts of 31 states and two Canadian Provinces. Nutrients that are deposited in watersheds upstream where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers begin flow down and collect with other nutrients that are deposited into the rivers downstream. Nutrients continue to accumulate as they head farther downstream and can eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s 4,880 miles worth of nutrient accumulation! Excess nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico can lead to oxygen depleted waters and algal blooms, both of which can be detrimental to aquatic wildlife. Reducing the amounts of nutrients entering these river systems can protect water quality and aquatic species. Visit www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/whatyoucando/index.html for tips and ideas for how to get started at home!
(Sources: EPA, “Act,” http://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/whatyoucando/index.html; National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, “River and Water Facts,” http://www.rivers.gov/rivers/waterfacts.php)