Briefing Held on Nitrates and Water Treatment Costs in the Mississippi River Basin

  • The panelists listen to a question from an audience member.

The costs of removing nitrates from drinking water in the Upper Mississippi River Basin were the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing hosted by the Northeast-Midwest Institute on December 6, 2017. Hosted in collaboration with Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN), the briefing featured a panel of five science and policy specialists who presented on the importance of conservation initiatives and water quality monitoring to preserve the health of the Mississippi River Basin.

A full, timestamped audio recording of the briefing can be found here.

The slides used during the briefing can be found here.

More information about the panelists can be found here.

Alyssa Charney, Policy Specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, addressed the importance of Farm Bill conservation programs. She also discussed how these conservation efforts affect a wide array of stakeholders as well as their roles in protecting the health of wetlands.

Kelly Warner, a Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, discussed methods for tracking and monitoring nutrients within the Mississippi River Basin. She emphasized the importance of water quality monitoring to strategies to reduce nutrient pollution.

Jeff Boeckler, Co-Founder of Northwater Consulting International, offered his perspective as a private sector consultant by highlighting examples of costly removal of nitrates from drinking water and the impact of federal cut-backs to relevant programs. He emphasized that the nutrient problem will not go away on its own, and that although progress is being made, continued support of conservation programs and water monitoring is necessary to maintain momentum.

In addition, Northeast-Midwest Institute staff presented an overview of its ongoing study: “Connecting Nutrient Loading in the Mississippi River to Drinking Water Treatment Costs”. The study will quantify the effects of nutrient pollution in the Upper Mississippi River Basin to drinking water treatment costs, and will be used to inform reauthorization of the Farm Bill in 2018.

Ankita Mandelia, Policy Analyst at the Northeast-Midwest Institute, gave an overview of NEMWI’s project, “Connecting Nutrient Loading in the Mississippi River to Drinking Water Treatment Costs”. She discussed the project objective, method, and expected outcome.

Joseph Vukovich, Senior Policy Analyst at Northeast-Midwest Institute, discussed the policy implications of “Connecting Nutrient Loading in the Mississippi River to Drinking Water Treatment Costs”, including implications for the upcoming Farm Bill’s conservation title.

Dr. Sri Vedachalam, Director of the Northeast-Midwest Institute’s Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program, moderated the briefing.

This briefing was hosted by the Mississippi River Basin Program (MRBP) at the Northeast-Midwest Institute. Launched in 1995, the MRBP envisions a Mississippi River Basin where livelihoods and the economy can thrive alongside conserved wetlands, restored floodplains, resilient ecosystems, and clean streams. Recognizing the role of informed policy debate in achieving this vision, the MRBP strives to provide detailed research and analysis to policy makers at all levels of government, and facilitates discussion and exchange among lawmakers and the region’s stakeholders.

The Northeast-Midwest Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization committed to economic vitality, environmental quality, and regional equity for the 18 states of the Northeast and Midwest.