Waterway Wisdom

Real Progress for the Mississippi River

A new, $320 million, four-year U.S. Department of Agriculture farmers incentive program will help farmers in 12 states improve their land management practices to curb nutrient runoff and benefit water quality in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. The move has the potential to significantly improve drinking water quality for tens of millions of Americans in the Mississippi River Basin, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, which helped forward passage of the 2008 Farm Bill that is providing $200 million of the total. It should also lighten the nutrient overload contributing to the northern Gulf’s oxygen-starved dead zone.

Participating states include Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Initiation of the incentives in 2010 coincides with this year’s theme for the United Nations’ World Water Day on March 22: “Communicating Water Quality Challenges and Opportunities.”

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