USDA Funds Projects to Improve Mississippi River Water Quality

USDA Funds Projects to Improve Mississippi River Water Quality

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it will direct $30 million toward projects that improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin, according to the Wildlife Management Institute. A total of 73 projects ? 33 new and 40 existing ? will receive funding.

"By targeting small priority watersheds within the Mississippi River Basin, we are helping to deliver local water quality benefits and contributing to large-scale improvements for the Basin as a whole," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "Water quality is important to everyone, at all levels of government, to private landowners, and in rural and urban areas alike. The many partnerships created through this initiative are both impressive and promising to the future of these watersheds."

The projects are funded through the Natural Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative which uses several conservation programs established in the 2014 Farm Bill that are designed to improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and restore wetlands. NRCS announced that it will invest $30 million per year over the next 3 years as part of a $100 million commitment to this effort.

An earlier monitoring effort conducted through USDA's Conservation Effects Assessment Project found that conservation efforts on cropland in the Mississippi River Basin had reduced the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Gulf of Mexico by 18 percent and phosphorus by 20 percent.

The Mississippi River Healthy Watersheds Initiative is one of several of USDA's landscape-level efforts to improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat. Other similar projects are underway in the Great Lakes region, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the California Bay Delta region.

View a complete list of current Mississippi River Healthy Watersheds. (pmr)

November 16, 2015