Mississippi River watershed could be model for world

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URBANA, Ill. — What does the agricultural community have to do with the Mississippi River? Plenty.

Research directors and water resource administrators from institutions in seven states in the North Central Region of the upper Mississippi river basin met recently to share ideas and develop a common framework concerning fresh water issues facing the nation, particularly the Mississippi River.

Farm bill urgency

“With the upcoming farm bill in mind, there is a sense of urgency to present a unified statement to the agricultural community about topics regarding the Mississippi River and its watershed,” said Robert Hauser, dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Deans and research directors from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois conducted a brainstorming and planning workshop March 26 to discuss critical revitalization initiatives within the upper Mississippi watershed.

During the morning session, researchers from each state shared information about projects and programs they are currently working on concerning natural resources, community development and economics and, in particular, water.

“Many of the institutions are working on projects that complement one another,” said Gary Rolfe, director of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center. “By forming this consortium, we’ll be able to maximize scientific, social and economic efforts and funding opportunities.”

According to Jozef Kokini, dean for research at the University of Iowa ag college, the coalition plans to present a case that the Mississippi river basin should be a critical focus area for major federal funding from the USDA, the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“A regional/national initiative to address the sustainability of the river basin, which is critical to the country and the world, can serve as an international model for the sustainability of other rivers like the Amazon, the Danube, the Nile and others,” Kokini said.

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