Skip to main content


Most water resources managers, scientists, and other experts would agree that nonpoint source pollution is a more pressing and challenging national water quality problem today than point source pollution. Nonpoint sources of pollutants include parking lots, farm fields, forests, or any source not from a discrete conveyance such as a pipe or canal. Of particular concern across the Mississippi River basin (MRB) are high levels of nutrient loadings--nitrogen and phosphorus--from both nonpoint and point sources that ultimately are discharged into the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM). Nutrients emanate from both point and nonpoint sources across the river basin, but the large majority of nutrient yields across the MRB are nonpoint in nature and are associated with agricultural activities, especially applications of nitrogen-based fertilizers and runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations.

Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico offers strategic advice and priorities for addressing MRB and NGOM water quality management and improvements. Although there is considerable uncertainty as to whether national water quality goals can be fully realized without some fundamental changes to the CWA, there is general agreement that significant progress can be made under existing statutory authority and budgetary processes.

This book includes four sections identifying priority areas and offering recommendations to EPA and others regarding priority actions for Clean Water Act implementation across the Mississippi River basin. These sections are: USDA's Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative; Numeric Water Quality Criteria for the northern Gulf of Mexico; A Basinwide Strategy for Nutrient Management and Water Quality; and, Stronger Leadership and Collaboration.


Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2012. Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico: Strategies and Priorities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Import this citation to:

Publication Info

46 pages |  6 x 9 |  DOI:

What is skim?

The Chapter Skim search tool presents what we've algorithmically identified as the most significant single chunk of text within every page in the chapter. You may select key terms to highlight them within pages of each chapter.

Copyright Information

The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Marketplace service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Marketplace, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Marketplace allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Marketplace you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the NAP through Marketplace:

  • Republish text, tables, figures, or images in print
  • Post on a secure Intranet/Extranet website
  • Use in a PowerPoint Presentation
  • Distribute via CD-ROM
  • Photocopy

Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Marketplace service, please contact:

Marketplace Support
International +1.978.646.2600
US Toll Free +1.855.239.3415

To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at

loading iconLoading stats for Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico: Strategies and Priorities...