Monitoring Success of Mississippi’s Delta Nutrient Reduction Strategies

Author(s): Hicks, M.; Stocks, S.; Wright, J.

Nutrient reduction strategies are being implemented in northwestern Mississippi, an area locally referred to as the Mississippi Delta, in response to Action Plans of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, which call for reduction of nutrients to the Gulf of Mexico. As part of the nutrient reduction efforts, it is important to understand and answer several key questions such as what level reductions are achievable and what reductions are required to protect the health of Delta waters. To gain a scientific understanding of these questions, a comprehensive monitoring and data collection plan was developed by a consortia of Federal, State, and local agencies and is being applied throughout the Delta. Monitoring will document changes in nutrient concentrations and loads that occur at each of three nested scales—edge-of-field, in-stream, and outlet of the watershed —following the implementation of a suite of BMPs.

As part of the implementation of the comprehensive plan, the U.S. Geological Survey began monitoring in the spring of 2010 in selected Delta watersheds and will continue for several years to detect changes over time. Two of the watersheds where monitoring is taking place include Harris Bayou and Porters Bayou in the upper part of the Big Sunflower River Bain. Implementation of best management practices (BMPs) is complete in Harris Bayou watershed, and post-implementation monitoring has begun. Pre-implementation monitoring is continuing in Porters Bayou as implementation of BMPs has yet to begin.

Monitoring in these watersheds includes collection of flow and water-quality samples throughout the entire year, during storms and on a regular fixed schedule. To evaluate changes, a before-and-after and a paired-watershed approach are being used. Ecosystem characteristics being monitored and evaluated include, but are not limited to, various physical, chemical and biological properties such as nutrient concentrations, sediment concentrations, dissolved oxygen dynamics, chlorophyll-a concentrations, streamflow, physical habitat, and biological community assemblages.
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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