Jan 04, 2021

2020 Mississippi River Watershed Report Card Released

The 2020 grade received is a C- grade 

America’s Watershed Initiative released its 2020 report card for the Mississippi River. This report card consists of more than 250 tributaries, reported ABC News

The 2020 grade received is a C- grade and only a slight improvement on the D+ grade the group issued for the watershed in its first report in 2015.

The group developed to help improve management of the Mississippi River Watershed. The 2020 report card saw improvements in the following areas: hunting and fishing licenses, floodplain population, and infrastructure maintenance and condition, according to the America’s Watershed Initiative.

The 2020 Mississippi River Watershed Report Card includes several improved indicators and analysis methods for water quality in: water quality and ecosystems; flood control and risk management; transportation; and water supply. 

The report characterized water quality in the system as very poor due to increasing sediments and nutrients, according to America’s Watershed Initiative. A D grade was given for water quality, flood control and risk reduction. Ecosystem health, the economy and recreation were also measured.

"The Mississippi River Watershed provides water for many purposes, including drinking water for millions of people and wildlife, irrigation for agriculture, industrial uses, recreation, and transportation," according to the report. "But these critical resources are threatened. For example, drinking water supplies are frequently affected by high nitrogen concentrations. Additionally, groundwater from deep aquifers is being extracted much faster than it is refilled."

In order to protect the water system, the initiative calls for $2 billion in annual funding through government and private sources, reported ABC News. Greater collaboration among river interests and improvements in information gathering and public education are encouraged as well.

“The results of the 2020 Mississippi River Watershed Report Card allow us to see how those important features are trending by assigning letter grades,” said Executive Director Kimblery A. Lutz. “Some grades and their stories illustrate what is working so that the next time we measure progress we see improvement. Some grades tell us that the Mississippi River Watershed faces difficult challenges with implications for the health and safety of Americans, the security that comes with reliable availability of clean and abundant water (called “water security”), and the American economy.”

According to Lutz, the group plans to release a new report every five years to help track progress and shortfalls.

The report card was developed jointly with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The initiative was founded in 2010.

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