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Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities
the committee focused its efforts and this report on the core Clean Water Act issues along the 10-state Mississippi River corridor as directed by its statement of task.
This report is focused on the Clean Water Act and its implementation. The committee was not specifically charged to consider possible statutory changes to the Clean Water Act. The committee discussed this topic and chose to conduct its investigations and present its findings and recommendations entirely within the framework of the existing act. Although the committee focused its report on CWA implementation, the findings and recommendations herein provide a foundation that could be used for water quality management and restoration activities in realms beyond the act.
REPORT ORGANIZATION AND AUDIENCE
Following this introductory chapter, Chapter 2 reviews the characteristics of the Mississippi River basin, with an emphasis on features and activities that affect water quality in the river and into the northern Gulf of Mexico. Chapter 3 presents an overview of the key provisions of the Clean Water Act and can serve as a primer on this topic. Chapter 4 examines key issues, advances, and challenges regarding implementation of the Clean Water Act along the 10-state Mississippi River corridor. Chapter 5 addresses logistical and administrative challenges in establishing and maintaining a water quality monitoring program on a large, interstate river such as the Mississippi. Chapter 6 discusses agricultural practices across the river basin and their implications for Mississippi River water quality. Chapter 7 explores institutional and policy modifications that could lead to more effective implementation of the Clean Water Act for the Mississippi River and other large rivers of the nation. The report’s conclusions and recommendations are printed in boldface in the Summary, as well as in each summary section at the end of the individual chapters.
This report’s target audience includes federal and state elected officials, federal and state resource managers and scientists, experts in river and water quality science and policy issues, nongovernmental organizations with interests in Mississippi River and northern Gulf of Mexico water quality, and individual citizens along the river, across the basin, and along the Gulf Coast. Environmental protection and agricultural agencies for states in the Mississippi River basin comprise a special audience for the report because the states have primary responsibility for implementation of the Clean Water Act and coordination with other states. The U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the U.S. Geological Survey, constitute another special audience for this report, because leadership and coordination by these federal agencies will be crucial for more effective monitoring activities and for improving water quality in the Mississippi River and the northern Gulf of Mexico.