Wallaces Farmer

Task Force members discuss the benefits of new tools and approaches to improving surface water quality.

October 2, 2020

3 Min Read

Federal and state members of the Hypoxia Task Force highlighted actions to reduce excess nutrients in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin at the virtual Fall 2002 Hypoxia Task Force meeting. Federal partners—including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USDA, and the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey —discussed the benefits of new tools and novel approaches to improve surface water quality in the basin. Additionally, the 12 Task Force states shared success stories, lessons learned, and next steps in their efforts to reduce excess nutrients in surface water.

During the Task Force meeting, EPA staff gave presentations on opportunities for the Task Force states to use traditional EPA funding to support market-based programs that help further reduce excess nutrients in surface water, including the use of 319 funds to purchase verified water quality credits. This new guidance from the Office of Water has the potential to expand participation in water quality markets and drive further surface water quality improvements in the basin. EPA’s presentations are also available online at www.epa.gov/ms-htf.

“Working to reduce excess nutrients in a basin that touches 31 states requires collaboration, coordination and innovation,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “The Hypoxia Task Force meeting highlighted the potential for innovative approaches to accelerate progress on reducing excess nutrients in surface water and the benefit of collaborating with states—who know their waters best.”

Related:EPA provides additional money to Hypoxia Task Force

Priority watersheds

As part of the Task Force meeting, USDA announced that it has named 379 priority watersheds to help agricultural producers improve surface water quality across the country. Producers in these targeted watersheds will receive focused financial and technical resources through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s landscape-level water-quality efforts—the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative and National Water Quality Initiative

“We see a positive impact when we partner with producers to deliver conservation practices to critical watersheds,” said Farm Production and Conservation Under Secretary Bill Northey. “These focused partnerships allow us to maximize the delivery of our conservation efforts and achieve greater improvements to water quality, which benefits the participating producers, the public and our nation’s natural resources.”

USGS update

The USGS also provided an update on new tools that bring increased data and spatial resolution to efforts that reduce excess nutrients in surface water, including discussing its online SPARROW (SPAtially Referenced Regression On Watershed attributes) models and interactive mappers. This new tool estimates loads of nitrogen and phosphorus in streams throughout the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin at a spatial resolution of about 2 square kilometers, which is much more precise than earlier models. USGS also highlighted a new website with data from the USGS National Water Quality Network that provides annually updated information on nutrients, sediment, pesticides and streamflow in the nation’s rivers—including those in the Mississippi/ Atchafalaya River Basin. This new website will provide information on 110 stream and river sites with long-term, consistent data on water-quality.

Related:EPA Administrator visits Minnesota farm talks dicamba, and more

“The coordination between state and federal partners through the Hypoxia Task Force is critical to finding innovative approaches and partnerships to reduce excess nutrients and ensure that the water quality in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin and the Gulf are improved,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Timothy Petty.

Additional funding

Finally, EPA announced it is providing an additional $360,000 to the HTF states to support the implementation of state plans to reduce excess nutrients in surface water—bringing the total amount announced over the last two years to $2.4 million.

“States are leading efforts to implement water quality improvement practices that are tailored to their unique landscapes and challenges. Public and private partnerships are key to scaling up water quality improvement projects in priority watersheds across the Mississippi River Basin,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Continued financial and technical support from the EPA and USDA are critical to helping states achieve the goals outlined in our state-level Nutrient Reduction Strategies, and I’m proud of the progress we’re making.”

Source: EPA, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 

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