TUWaterWays Water News and More from the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy 23 August 2019

If a bit of something is good for you then surely a lot of it has to be even better for you right?  Nope, at least when it comes to nutrition where both people and natural systems can succumb to the “too much of a good thing is a bad thing syndrome”.  That is certain the case for the Mississippi River and nutrients where the MoaGTiaBTS is on full display.    The connections between hypoxia in the Gulf and the River nutrient loads are well known.  This year’s long highwater season on the River has been linked to algae blooms, displaced fisheries, and beach closures in Mississippi, so much so that the State of Mississippi’s Secretary of State is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to consider new ways of managing floods on the River to keep polluted river water away.  Top that off with a new study published in the journal Restoration Ecology that suggests that the elevated nutrient levels in river water can actually weaken coastal wetlands. Yes, that is the very same river water that many of the plans for saving (to the extent it can be) Louisiana’s coast depend on and that some local governments are losing confidence in.   Before jettisoning coastal restoration and flood control due to pollution concerns, perhaps some serious attention should be given to actually making the river clean enough to use.  Just an idea, and not even a new one.  Since 1997 EPA has been leading voluntary multistate task force aimed at reducing nutrient levels in the Mississippi River and Gulf.  In the ensuing 22 years, it has not made a dent and until Louisiana and Mississippi insist on improvement that won’t likely change.  Louisiana’s latest proposed nutrient management strategy does not get there, as this Institute’s comments point out.  The only thing in shorter supply than time to act has been the will to act. Maybe it will be different this go round.