River Bottoms

River Bottoms: This exhibit includes  mussel and dredgeboat displays with 2-minute videos,  in addition to videos about non-source pollution and water quality.

 Mussels: Our rivers host approximately 50 species of mussels or freshwater clams. These bi-valve creatures are vastly important to the environment as they filter impurities from the water. They also serve as an important food source for aquatic and terrestrial life in the riparian environment.  Furthermore, they are environmental indicators and warn us of problems with water purity.

Non-Source Pollution: When pollution in our waterways cannot be pinned onto one polluting contributor such as a factory, it is caused by either soil erosion, urban run-off or the careless use of chemicals such as fertilizers or pesticides. These contaminants damage or kill mussels, fish and amphibians living in the water.

Water Quality: Rivers are important for recreation, as a source for drinking water and for navigation. The cleanliness of the water is important for all of these activities. The United States Corps of Engineers is responsible for monitoring and managing water quality. Data sensors, as well as direct sampling, allow scientists to measure oxygen levels, temperatures and specific conductivity of the water.

River Geology: Rivers transport not only water but also sediment made up of rock, sand and mud. The Ohio River is unique in that it also carries glacial debris, called “exotic rock”, which is different from the geological makeup of the bedrock.  Sand dunes on the river bottom constantly are pushed along by the current and flooding to the mouth of the river.  Sand is produced by the physical and chemical weathering of the rock when it meets with water.

Dredging:  As sand, gravel and silt wash downstream, river channels gradually fill up, causing difficulties in navigation. The US Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for removing these deposits keeping the waterways navigable. They also dredge for environmental viability of the rivers removing contaminants before they spread to other waterways or harm fish, wildlife or people.