Runaway Runoff: New Report Urges Better Monitoring of Mississippi River

WASHINGTON — While a multivitamin a day may keep the doctor away, too many nutrients in the mouth of a major river can create a dead zone in the water body. This is exactly the case where the Mississippi River feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. The region has swallowed too much nutrient-saturated runoff, leading to an overdose of nitrogen and phosphorus. Hot off the press, a report from the National Research Council (NRC) calls for organized healing.

The NRC suggests that the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperate to form a Nutrient Control Implementation Initiative (NCII). The initiative would explore ways to effectively monitor and impact the level of runoff flowing into the gulf. It would also network with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and state natural resources and water-quality agencies.

“Efforts to reduce nutrients in the northern Gulf of Mexico will face significant management, economic, and public policy challenges, as well as a time lag — a decade at minimum — between reducing pollutants across the river basin and identifying water-quality improvements downstream in the gulf,” said committee chair and professor David Moreau in a press release.

Read the report.

Source: National Academies

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