Mississippi River Basin

Reducing Nutrients, Improving Our Way of Life

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Stretching from the Allegheny Mountains across to the Rockies and south to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River Basin spans 1,245 million square miles in 31 states and two Canadian provinces—forming the world’s fourth largest river basin.

For centuries, we’ve used the Mississippi to quench our thirst, nourish our crops, energize our home, and transport our goods. The flowing water sustains robust fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, which provide food, jobs, and economic security to millions of people. But all of this is at risk.

One of the most critical challenges in the Mississippi Basin today is nutrient pollution. Each year massive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous from sewage treatment plants, farms and other sources runoff into the river, posing health hazards to people and wildlife, raising water treatment costs, and contributing to the annual Gulf of Mexico dead zone.

Our Goal: A 20 percent reduction of nutrients entering the Mississippi River Basin by 2025

The Nature Conservancy is working with farmers, agribusiness, policy makers and others to target science-based solutions in places contributing the highest levels of nutrients.

Read more about our America’s Great River effort.


A Benefit of the Conservation Reserve Program: Paying Farmers to Grow Clean Water


Financing Change: Five Bold Ways to Kill the Dead Zone and Rebuild Soils



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