Government Must Do Better at Protecting Mississippi River

MEMPHIS, TN - A new study urges states and the federal government to coordinate their efforts to monitor and protect the water of the Mississippi River.

The study released today by the National Research Council calls on the Environmental Protection Agency to coordinate the efforts affecting the river and the northern Gulf of Mexico where its water is discharged.

David A. Dzomback, a professor of environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, was chairman of the committee that prepared the report.

Dzomback says that in addressing water-quality problems in the river, EPA and the states should draw upon the useful experience in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where for decades the agency has been working together with states surrounding the bay to reduce nutrient pollution and improve water quality.

In the north, the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association has promoted many cooperative water-quality studies and other initiatives, the report said.  That group includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

But there is no similar organization for the lower-river states...Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, and the report says the states should strive to create one.

Nutrients from fertilizers create water-quality problems in the river itself and contribute to an oxygen-deficient "dead zone" in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)