Most water resources managers, scientists, and other experts would agree that nonpoint source pollution is a more pressing and challenging national water quality problem today than point source pollution. Nonpoint sources of pollutants include parking lots, farm fields, forests, or any source not from a discrete conveyance such as a pipe or canal. Of particular concern across the Mississippi River basin (MRB) are high levels of nutrient loadings--nitrogen and phosphorus--from both nonpoint and point sources that ultimately are discharged into the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM). Nutrients emanate from both point and nonpoint sources across the river basin, but the large majority of nutrient yields across the MRB are nonpoint in nature and are associated with agricultural activities, especially applications of nitrogen-based fertilizers and runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations.
Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico offers strategic advice and priorities for addressing MRB and NGOM water quality management and improvements. Although there is considerable uncertainty as to whether national water quality goals can be fully realized without some fundamental changes to the CWA, there is general agreement that significant progress can be made under existing statutory authority and budgetary processes.
This book includes four sections identifying priority areas and offering recommendations to EPA and others regarding priority actions for Clean Water Act implementation across the Mississippi River basin. These sections are: USDA's Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative; Numeric Water Quality Criteria for the northern Gulf of Mexico; A Basinwide Strategy for Nutrient Management and Water Quality; and, Stronger Leadership and Collaboration.