Mississippi River

Churned by hurricane, ‘dead zone’ is one-third expected size

The fish-killing "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this summer is the third-smallest in 34 years of surveys, reported scientists. At 2,116 square miles, the hypoxic region is about one-third the size of the forecast of 6,700 square miles.

‘Dead zone’ in Gulf is eighth-largest on record

The fish-killing “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this summer covers 6,952 square miles, midway in size between Connecticut and New Jersey, said researchers on Thursday. It is the eighth-largest dead zone in 33 years of keeping records.

A flooding reprieve for 25,000 acres of Louisiana farmland

A spillway on the Mississippi River designed to prevent the river from overflowing its levees and inundating towns and cities in Louisiana will likely be opened for only the third time in history this Sunday, flooding 25,000 acres of farmland in the Atchafalaya basin and all but guaranteeing a total crop loss for farmers in the area.

‘Extensive flooding’ to continue through May

Spring rains and melting snow are helping to create the potential for major or moderate flooding in 25 states, with the greatest threat in the northern Plains and the upper Mississippi River basin, said NOAA in a spring outlook issued on Thursday.

Record-setting Gulf dead zone may get worse

This past spring, Louisiana-based professor Dr. Nancy Rabalais, perhaps the world’s most renowned researcher on marine dead zones, predicted that the summer of 2017 would see the largest hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico in recorded history. Last month she was proven right.

‘Dead zone’ is largest ever recorded, covers one-seventh of Gulf of Mexico

Marine scientists estimate the low-oxygen "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico covers a record 8,776 square miles, or one-seventh of the basin. "This large dead zone size shows that nutrient pollution, primarily from agriculture and developed land runoff in the Mississippi River watershed, is continuing to affect the nation’s coastal resources and habitats in the Gulf," said NOAA.

Voluntary efforts ‘not even making modest dents in nutrient pollution’

A mandated interstate "pollution diet" intended to reduce nutrient runoff into the Chesapeake Bay is paying off, while voluntary measures to reduce nitrogen levels in Mississippi River have failed, writes a University of Michigan professor at the site The Conversation. "From my perspective, when we compare these two approaches it is clear that voluntary measures are not even making modest dents in nutrient pollution," says professor Donald Scavia, who has worked on the issue of "dead zones" for four decades.

Will the Mississippi River become ‘just another polluted waterway’?

The Mississippi River, rising from Lake Istasca in northern Minnesota to flow 2,340 miles to the Gulf of Mexico, "is heading toward an ecological precipice," says the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a special report. In five years, 400 square miles of forests, marshes and grasslands in the upper Mississippi have been converted to agriculture and urban development, "endangering the cleanest stretch of America’s greatest river with farm chemicals, depleted groundwater and urban runoff."

Report card gives Mississippi River basin D+

The Mississippi River basin got an overall grade of D+ in a report card from America’s Watershed Initiative, which looked at six areas – flood control, transportation, water supply, economy, recreation and ecosystems. The lowest mark, a D-, was for transportation, said St Louis Public Radio. …

Nutrient compliance, pay-for-gain mooted for conservation

Researchers know that a comparatively small share of cropland accounts for a disproportionate amount of erosion and nutrient runoff, writes economist Marc Ribaudo in Choices, the ag econ journal.

Wetlands benefits vary for greenhouse gases, nitrate runoff

Wetlands in the upper Mississippi and Ohio River watersheds can remove up to 1,800 pounds of nitrogen per acre from field runoff, says a USDA study of the economic benefits of wetland conservation.

Fertilizer management, filtering can cut runoff by 45%

Nitrogen runoff could be reduced by 45 percent in the Mississippi River basin - the heart of U.S. grain farming - with adoption of practices that reduce fertilizer waste and conversion of as little as 3.1 million acres of farmland to filter and hold nutrients that now flow downstream, says a research paper. Nitrogen runoff from farms and other sources is blamed for the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cost to reduce Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”- $2.7 billion a year

It would cost $2.7 billion a year to reduce by two-thirds the size of the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico through reductions in nutrient runoff, says a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Late start, early end of barge season in Twin Cities area

The shipping season is ending early on the upper reaches of the Mississippi River because ice is making navigation difficult. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the towboat Mary K Cavarra passed through Lock and Dam 2 near Hastings, Minn, on Thursday.

Barge system may be next bottleneck for grain

Transportation consultant Walter Kemmsies is skeptical the barge industry will be able to move the huge corn and soybean crops being harvested this fall, said Farm Futures, based on an interview at a grain industry meeting in New Orleans.

Three Iowa farm groups form water-quality alliance

Groups representing soybean, corn and hog farmers in Iowa formed an alliance to encourage farmers in the Hawkeye state to voluntarily reduce nutrient runoff, said DTN.