Mississippi River basin receives sub-par marks

Barge on the Mississippi

America’s Watershed Initiative issued its first report card for the Mississippi River basin but it isn’t anything to brag about.

The initiative is a collaboration of groups that have come together to improve the Mississippi River watershed.  Director Jordy Jordahl says the Initiative’s report card looked at 6 broad goals the group has for the Mississippi River.  “Economics, recreation and ecosystem, flood control, and risk reduction, transportation and water supply – and it showed some real concerns,” he says.  “The grade that we ended up giving was a D+ for the entire Mississippi River watershed.”

He tells Brownfield one of the biggest areas of concern is infrastructure which received a “D” for condition and an “F” in the maintenance category.   “There is potential for lock and dam closures that would have a real impact on goods and product throughout the system,” he says.  “There is also a lack of adequate funding for maintenance.  Currently product is moving fine – but we have a real red flag when we look at the condition and the potential for shutdowns associated with aging infrastructure.”

The watershed received a C- in its ability to maintain an abundant supply of clean water and a D for the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

Max Starbuck, director of market development for the National Corn Growers Association and a member of the steering committee says while the overall mark was less than stellar – the process of grading has yielded a pathway to improvement.

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