Nutrient Reduction In Mississippi: Partnering For Success

Author(s): Bhowal, P.

Mississippi is blessed with abundant water resources, and protection of these water resources is essential to ensure sustainability of Mississippi’s ecosystems and economies. One of the biggest challenges for Mississippi’s surface waters, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico is the presence of excess nutrients in these waters. The Gulf of Mexico contains a hypoxic zone that is a result of nutrient-rich water from the Mississippi River flowing into the Gulf. Nutrients, in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus, come from a variety of sources including farmlands and lawns where fertilizers are used, wastewater treatment facilities, animal wastes from farms and pasturelands. Accordingly, the issues of nutrient pollution and Gulf Hypoxia have become priorities for Mississippi’s Delta, Upland and Coastal regions that contribute significant nutrients loading to the Gulf. Mississippi’s approach to reduce nutrient loadings within basins and to the Gulf of Mexico is a highly collaborative, stakeholder supported process centered on development and implementation of comprehensive nutrient reduction strategies for the Delta (December 2009), Coastal (March 2011), and Upland (March 2011) regions of the state. These strategies identified 11 strategic elements to help reduce nutrient loading to Mississippi’s surface waters. Over 50 staff from multiple state and federal resource agencies and other organizations in Mississippi have been working together to help develop and implement these comprehensive nutrient reduction strategies. Implementation includes engaging stakeholders, characterizing watersheds, determining status and trends, documenting management programs, establishing quantitative targets, selecting analytical tools, identifying/implementing established and innovative best management practices (BMPs), designing monitoring work, providing incentive and funding, and communicating results. These nutrient reduction strategies are currently being implemented in 10 priority watersheds in the Delta (7), Upland (2), and Coastal (1) regions of the state.

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