• Is it safe to swim in the Mississippi? Is it safe to swim in the Mississippi? Bacterial concentrations can affect recreational users of the river. The report details areas of bacterial impairment.
  • How is agricultural pollution affecting water quality? How is agricultural pollution affecting water quality? The report details concentrations of phosphorous, nitrate, sediment and other pollutants resulting from agriculture in the Mississippi River watershed.
  • How have populations of river-dependent wildlife fared in recent years? How have populations of river-dependent wildlife fared in recent years? Eagle populations have rebounded, but contaminants remain a threat to healthy reproduction.
  • Is is safe to eat the fish I catch? Is is safe to eat the fish I catch? Locally-caught fish may contain contaminants harmful to humans. The report provides guidelines on reducing your exposure and improving fishery health.
  • What can I do to improve water quality and river health? What can I do to improve water quality and river health? Our Stewardship Guide lists several simple steps you can take to help reduce pollution in the Mississippi River watershed, like safely disposing of medications.

 “So, how is the Mississippi River?”

Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) and the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) are pleased to present the second edition of the State of the River Report.

In 2012, we partnered to develop the inaugural State of the River Report. That report spurred a series of river management milestones, including closure of the Upper St. Anthony lock, statewide phase-outs of triclosan and coal tar sealants, and improved targeting of state clean water funds.

For the second edition, FMR and MNRRA once again ask the question: “So, how is the Mississippi River?” The State of the River Report highlights 14 key indicators of river health and presents each in a way that non-scientists can understand. The report examines the status and trends of each indicator and highlights strategies for improvement.

Companion Guides

We know that clean water is everyone’s responsibility, and we can all do our part to help protect this vital natural resource. To help readers make use of the State of the River Report, we’ve also created companion guides.
  • Stewardship Guide  The Stewardship Guide provides practical steps that individuals can take in their home, yard and community to improve the health of the Mississippi.
  • Teacher’s Guide  The brand new Teacher’s Guide helps teachers and students carry the lessons of the report into the classroom.
  • Policy Guide  The FMR Policy Guide offers priority actions that federal, state and local leaders can take for the river.

Looking Forward

As individuals and as a society we make choices that affect the river both for better or worse. The river is cleaner today because previous generations came together and demanded something better. What will future generations say we did to restore our beloved Mississippi River? We hope the State of the River Report will guide us toward a more healthy and sustainable river, for ourselves and for generations yet to come.