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Nothing New in Efforts to Reduce Mississippi River Pollution

Algae bloom on spring fed pond downstream of dairy CAFO
Tennessee Clean Water Network
Mississippi River Collaborative, Decades of Delay, http://bit.ly/2haJxd9
Algae bloom on spring fed pond downstream of dairy CAFO (Tennessee Clean Water Network)
Mississippi River Collaborative logo
Credit Mississippi River Collaborative website / Mississippi River Collaborative

Despite promise after promise over the last 20 years, the U.S. EPA has failed to clean up  the Mississippi River. Last month, the Mississippi River Collaboration released a report called, "Decades of Delay," which shows states along the river continue to allow nitrogen and phosphorus to contaminate the river and cause the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kim Knowles is a staff attorney at the Prairie Rivers Network, one of the 13 environmental and legal groups in the coalition. She says the report shows nothing has changed. "There's a paternal relationship between the Illinois and U.S. EPA, and the idea is, 'What's least amount we can do to please the U.S. EPA?'"

A ditch adjacent to fields in Sac Co., Iowa where several pipes drain runoff
Credit Bill Stowe / Des Moines Water Works

There's lots of talk about the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. That's what scientists call the nitrogen and phosphorus in fertilizer runoff. But Knowles says the strictly voluntary program won't reduce pollution so people and wildlife can have safe clean water. "What do we want for Illinois? How are we going to get there? The Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a hollow document."

Farms aren't the only problem. Knowles says sewage treatment plants also pollute the Mississippi River. 

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