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Lower Mississippi River Basin Receives 'D' Grade

America's Watershed Initiative
The lower Mississippi River was one of five Mississippi River basins to be graded by America's Watershed Initiative. Collectively, the basins received an overall 'D' grade.

A new report card for the Mississippi River basin is not good. The lower Mississippi gets a D+ from a water coalition due to poor infrastructure maintenance, run-down levees and unhealthy fish.

America’s Watershed Initiative is a coalition of industry, academic and environmental groups. Its report card graded watersheds along the river, and the river as a whole, by looking at ecosystems, transportation, water supply, flood control and the economy.

Director Harald Jordahl says the goal of releasing report cards is not to shame southern Louisiana or compare regions, but to get industry and environmental advocates to work together.

“Coastal wetland loss is clearly an issue that affects flood control and risk reduction. It’s also a critical issue dealing with economic development,” says Jordahl. “It’s a critical issue dealing with recreation. Many of these challenges are much broader than any single sector or any single basin.”

For example, he points to the hypoxic zone caused in the Gulf of Mexico partly due to runoff from agriculture in states upriver.

Jordahl hopes the report card raises awareness and results in more public and private investment in the infrastructure along the river and health of its ecosystem.

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Kabacoff Family Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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