Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative

Missouri is saving some ‘solid ground’ – and helping restore the health of surface waters all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. 

In the summer of 2010, the department’s Soil and Water Conservation Program coordinated development of Missouri project proposals for the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, or MRBI. The proposals from Missouri soil and water conservation districts resulted in 12 Missouri projects being awarded $6 million in 2010 and $28.3 million in funding over the next four years.

The MRBI is a 12-state effort funded by the USDA to address nutrient loading in the Mississippi River Basin from its source in Minnesota to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. Agricultural runoff containing fertilizer and other nutrients produces nuisance algal blooms in surface water that impair recreational uses, cause fish kills, and require extra treatment of local drinking water supplies. Ultimately, the runoff also contributes to a lack of oxygen downstream in the so-called "dead zone" near where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. This area is the second-largest dead zone in the world.

The federal funds from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will be used along with state, local, and private funds to provide cost-share payments to help agricultural producers install conservation practices that reduce nutrient and sediment runoff from agricultural land.

The Soil and Water Conservation Program helped the districts develop their MRBI project proposals and provided $500,000 in state nonfederal match to leverage the federal MRBI funds. For each district interested in applying, SWCP developed a project proposal template populated with information such as water quality data, impaired waters, TMDLs, historical cost-share payments made to producers in each county, existing watershed groups, and watershed management plans. The state’s funding will primarily help pay for a portion of the cost of edge-of-field and in-stream monitoring to measure the effectiveness of each project to reduce nutrient and sediment runoff.  

This map can be used interactively to show how much money each project in Missouri will receive. Place your mouse over the 12 watershed regions to find out more information.  We also have a PDF of this data available.

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