Leading orgs announce first-ever Report Card for Mississippi River Basin

Leaders representing organizations from more than 20 states recently gathered in St. Louis, Mo., and announced the release of a first-ever Report Card for the entire Mississippi River Basin, which stretches across all or part of 31 states and covers more than 41 percent of the U.S.

ST. LOUIS, MO, Oct. 14, 2015 -- Today, leaders representing organizations from more than 20 states gathered in St. Louis, Mo., and announced the release of a first-ever Report Card for the entire Mississippi River Basin, which stretches across all or part of 31 states and covers more than 41 percent of the U.S.

The leaders were part of America's Watershed Initiative, which has worked with more than 700 stakeholders and experts from over 400 business, government and science organizations to identify the key measurements and data sources to grade six goals for the watershed: clean, abundant water; marine transportation; flood control and risk reduction; the economy; recreation; and ecosystem health.

The report card also provides assessments for five major sub-basins -- the Upper Mississippi River, Lower Mississippi River, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, Arkansas and Red Rivers, and Missouri River. Overall, the grade average for the six goals for entire watershed was a "D+."

Positive results in some of the basins and for some goals across the entire watershed were offset by significant challenges. Specifically, the assessments for transportation, water supply and flood control and risk reduction received some of the worst grades. Two of the three measurements for transportation -- infrastructure condition and infrastructure maintenance -- received the lowest grades of all goals measured.

The report card also addressed watershed-wide challenges, such as the size of the hypoxic or "dead zone," in the Gulf of Mexico and the rate of coastal wetland loss in Louisiana, with both being rated as "poor." The Report Card represents the first time these six broad goals have been assessed and presented in a single document for the Mississippi River Watershed.

During the St. Louis meeting, the leaders pledged to work together to develop a three-year action plan with specific actions to raise the grade for the Mississippi River watershed. Additional detailed reports on the Report Card findings and next steps will be released in the months ahead.

The AWI report card technical team included leadership from America' Watershed Initiative Steering committee members Dr. Chuck Somerville from Marshall University/Ohio River Basin Alliance and Dr. Rainy Shorey from Caterpillar. Heath Kelsey from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science facilitated the process, which included two summits, workshops in each of the major basins of the Mississippi River watershed, data collection and analysis.

See also:

"Rare collaboration aims to reduce nutrient pollution in Mississippi River Basin"

"Nature Conservancy launches major water fund to protect clean water in MN"

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