The Mississippi River is truly one of the great natural resources of our country. In addition to providing water for more than eighteen million people, the River and its tributaries provide an engine for economic development, an important transportation link, abundant recreational opportunities, and a vast habitat for wildlife. Forty percent of the nation‚Äôs migratory waterfowl fly along the Mississippi River corridor, and the River supports a whopping 260 fish species.
The Mississippi, however, is not without problems. As the River meanders southward, it picks up contaminants, including sediment, mercury, and pesticides. In addition, nutrients from upstream farms using excess fertilizer, urban storm sewers, and sewage treatment plants combine to create a ‚Äúdead zone‚ÄĚ in the Gulf. Though the size of the dead zone varies each year, it is often as large as the state of New Jersey. The dead zone causes untold costs each year to the $2.8 billion Gulf commercial and recreational fishing industries.
Efforts to improve the health of the Mississippi River and reduce nutrient pollution that causes the dead zone have been plagued by inconsistent implementation of the Clean Water Act, which is carried out by state agencies. The Mississippi River flows through a 10-state corridor, with most of the river lying between state boundaries. While some states have begun to take efforts to reduce nutrient pollution, others lag far behind.
What We Do
In order to address the numerous pollution sources throughout the entire Mississippi River, the Gulf Restoration Network is working with a collaborative of over twenty organizations. Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the Collaborative brings together experts in science, law, policy, and advocacy to find ways to reduce pollutants entering the Mississippi. Much of our work is focused on ensuring that the Clean Water Act is implemented and enforced consistently along the Mississippi River and that nutrient pollution levels are reduced.