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Technological improvements and upgrades to USGS monitoring network in Lower Mississippi River Basin, 2023
Proceedings of the 2023 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2023 Authors: Manning M.
The Mississippi River is one of the most extensively controlled rivers in the world. Man-made changes to the system have been documented as early as the 1700's. Today, flood-control levees are located along nearly 5,800 kilometers of the river's length; there are 29 lock-and-dam structures between Minneapolis, Minnesota and St. Louis, Missouri for navigational control; as well as many flow-diversion structures. All these alterations combined have created many positive water quality improvements, but has also created several unexpected negative impacts, including the reduction in the amount of transported sediment, in addition to the occurrence, duration, and extent of flooding.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects hundreds of suspended sediment and water quality samples each year to support water resource managers in timely access of data. In conjunction with these efforts, the USGS also maintains a network of real-time continuous streamflow and water quality stations along the Mississippi River main stem, tributaries, and distributaries to support local, state, and federal agencies flood control and aquatic health decision-making.
In mid-2022, to continue to support these efforts, the USGS began working to develop a new generation sampler. This new sampler would incorporate all aspects of previous large river bag and point samplers into one unique sampler. Also, this new generation sampler can be deployed hosting sensors including turbidity, acoustic backscatter, and other parameters to record at depth. The USGS is also currently using panoptic live scope sonars to view samplers in real-time as they descend and ascend the rivers depths collecting suspended data. These and other data collected by the USGS provide invaluable information to many agencies who strive to sustain, safeguard, and monitor the Mississippi River during various hydrologic conditions.