Water Quality in the Upper Mississippi Basin: Nitrates, Treatment Costs, and the Role of Agriculture

What: A Congressional briefing entitled “Water Quality in the Upper Mississippi Basin: Nitrates, Treatment Costs, and the Role of Agriculture”
When: Wednesday, December 6, 10:00 AM
Where: 202 Senate Visitor Center

The Northeast-Midwest Institute will hold a Capitol Hill briefing in collaboration with Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) on Wednesday, December 6, featuring national, state, and local experts on the impacts of agriculture on water quality.



The increasing costs of treatment associated with nitrate removal were brought to national attention in early 2015 when Des Moines Water Works (IA) filed suit to recover these costs from three upstream counties. The case was eventually dismissed in federal court, but it highlighted the relationship between farming practices and drinking water quality. The Northeast-Midwest Institute (NEWMI) is conducting a study to identify connections between source water quality in the Mississippi River Basin and treatment costs at drinking water treatment facilities. This study will enable targeted solutions to keep water treatment costs low, promote sustainable agriculture, and maintain clean water in the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

This briefing will elaborate on the presence of nutrients in the Mississippi Basin, sustainable farming practices adopted by farmers, and the impact of excess nutrients on water treatment and water treatment costs. Panelists will examine the relationship between nutrients and water treatment, and NEWMI staff will provide an overview of the project, list study locations being considered, and solicit feedback from briefing participants.

The list of speakers includes:

  • Kelly Warner, Illinois-Iowa Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey
  • Alyssa Charney, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
  • Jeff Boeckler, Northwater Consulting International

In addition, Dr. Sri Vedachalam, Joe Vukovich, and Ankita Mandelia of NEMWI will give an overview of the study and possible legislative impacts.

For more information, please contact Sri Vedachalam, Director of the Safe Drinking Water Research and Policy Program, or Joe Vukovich, Senior Policy Analyst for the Mississippi River Basin Program.