USDA/NRCS invests $30 million to improve water quality in Mississippi River basin

Published: Nov. 12, 2015 at 8:05 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2015 at 8:08 PM CST
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This is a news release from United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conversation Service 

The United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest $30 million this year in 33 new high-priority watersheds and 40 existing projects across the Mississippi River Basin that will help improve water quality and strengthen agricultural operations. This investment through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative is part of a commitment of $100 million over four years to address critical water quality concerns in priority watersheds while boosting rural economies.

These projects are funded through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), which uses several Farm Bill conservation programs, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). They help farmers adopt conservation systems to improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitat and restore wetlands. In addition, they have shown to reduce loss of nutrients and sediment to waters that eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico.

The specific projects targeted in Mississippi are the Beaver Bayou-Mound Bayou in Bolivar and Sunflower Counties and the Burrell Bayou in Sunflower County. NRCS partners on this project are Delta F.A.R.M, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission.

Since the start of the MRBI in 2009, NRCS has worked with more than 600 partners and 5,000 farmers to make conservation improvements on more than 1 million acres in the basin. NRCS will invest $30 million per year over the next three years, as part of a $100 million commitment from the 2014 Farm Bill.

A 2013 USDA study, Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) found that conservation work on cropland in the Mississippi River Basin has reduced the amount of nitrogen flowing to the Gulf of Mexico by 18 percent and phosphorus by 20 percent. CEAP models have also shown that the targeted approach of MRBI has enhanced the per-acre conservation benefit by 70 percent for sediment losses, 30 percent for nitrogen losses and 40 percent for phosphorus losses, when compared to general program activities.

MRBI is one of many landscape-level efforts to address water quality. Similar efforts are ongoing in the Great Lakes region, Gulf of Mexico region, Chesapeake Bay watershed and California Bay Delta region .

To locate your nearest NRCS office:

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