NUTRIENT CONTROL ACTIONS FOR IMPROVING WATER QUALITY in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico

Committee on the Mississippi River and the Clean Water Act: Scientific, Modeling, and Technical Aspects of Nutrient Pollutant Load Allocation and Implementation

Water Science and Technology Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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Committee on the Mississippi River and the Clean Water Act: Scientific, Modeling, and Technical Aspects of Nutrient Pollutant Load Allocation and Implementation Water Science and Technology Board Division on Earth and Life Studies

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Award No. 68-C-03-081. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied of the U.S. Government. International Standard Book Number—13:978-0-309-13000-4 International Standard Book Number—10:0-309-13000-X Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624- 6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievement of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph, J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER AND THE CLEAN WATER ACT: SCIENTIFIC, MODELING, AND TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF NUTRIENT POLLUTANT LOAD REDUCTION ALLOCATION AND IMPLEMENTATION DAVID H. MOREAU, Chairman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ROBIN K. CRAIG, Florida State University, Tallahassee MISGANAW DEMISSIE, Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign OTTO C. DOERING, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana DAVID A. DZOMBAK, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PAUL L. FREEDMAN, LimnoTech, Ann Arbor, Michigan G. TRACY MEHAN III, The Cadmus Group, Inc., Arlington, Virginia NANCY N. RABALAIS, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Chauvin THOMAS W. SIMPSON, University of Maryland, College Park ROGER WOLF, Iowa Soybean Association, Urbandale NRC Staff JEFFREY JACOBS, Study Director ELLEN A. DE GUZMAN, Research Associate v

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WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD CLAIRE WELTY, Chair, University of Maryland, Baltimore County JOAN G. EHRENFELD, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey GERALD E. GALLOWAY, University of Maryland, College Park SIMON GONZALEZ, National Autonomous University of Mexico CHARLES N. HAAS, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania KENNETH R. HERD, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville JAMES M. HUGHES, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia THEODORE L. HULLAR, consultant, Tucson, Arizona KIMBERLY L. JONES, Howard University, Washington, D.C. G. TRACY MEHAN III, The Cadmus Group, Inc., Arlington, Virginia DAVID H. MOREAU, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill THOMAS D. O’ROURKE, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York DONALD I. SIEGEL, Syracuse University, New York SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, University of California, Irvine HAME M. WATT, consultant, Washington, D.C. JAMES L. WESCOAT, JR., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director JEFFREY JACOBS, Scholar LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Staff Officer STEPHANIE E. JOHNSON, Senior Staff Officer LAURA J. HELSABECK, Associate Staff Officer M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Financial and Administrative Associate ELLEN A. DE GUZMAN, Research Associate ANITA A. HALL, Senior Program Associate MICHAEL STOEVER, Senior Program Assistant STEPHEN RUSSELL, Program Assistant vi

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Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with the procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the NRC in making its published report as sound as possible, and to ensure that the report meets NRC institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following for their review of this report: James Baker, Iowa State University; Norman Fausey, U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS, Midwest Area; Cathy Kling, Iowa State University; Kenneth Potter, University of Wisconsin; Donald Scavia, University of Michigan; Jerry Schnoor, University of Iowa; Holly Stoerker (retired), Upper Mississippi River Basin Authority; Edward Thackston (emeritus), Vanderbilt University; Alan Vicory, Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission. Although these reviewers provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report’s conclusions and recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Dr. Frank Stillinger, Princeton University, who was appointed by the NRC Report Review Committee, and Dr. Patrick Brezonik, University of Minnesota, who was appointed by the NRC Division on Earth and Life Studies. They were responsible for ensuring that an independent examination of this report was conducted in accordance with NRC institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for this report’s final contents rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC. vii

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Contents SUMMARY ........................................................................................................ 1 1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................... 7 2 NUTRIENT INPUTS AND WATER QUALITY EFFECTS ............... 13 Sources of Nutrient Inputs .......................................................................... 13 Water Quality Impacts of Nutrients ............................................................ 18 Scientific Understanding of Hypoxia and Implications for Management Actions................................................................................................. 20 3 GETTING STARTED: A NUTRIENT CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION INITIATIVE (NCII) .................................. 27 Pilot Projects and an Adaptive, Action-Oriented Approach to the Hypoxia Problem................................................................................................ 27 NCII Rationale and Goals........................................................................... 28 Components and Scope of NCII Projects ................................................... 30 EPA Authority Regarding Pilot Projects .................................................... 33 Identifying NCII Watersheds ..................................................................... 36 Financing the NCII .................................................................................... 37 4 ALLOCATING NUTRIENT LOAD REDUCTION TARGETS ......... 41 Estimating Loads, Reduction Targets, and Spatial Distribution of Sources ................................................................................................ 41 Factors in Load Reduction Allocation Decisions ....................................... 42 Setting Load Allocations for the Mississippi River Basin ......................... 45 5 MONITORING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NUTRIENT CONTROL ACTIONS AND STRATEGIES ...................................................... 49 Water Quality Monitoring for the Mississippi River Basin and the Northern Gulf of Mexico .................................................................... 49 A Mississippi River Basin Water Quality Center ...................................... 52 Strengthened Monitoring for the Northern Gulf Of Mexico ...................... 55 ix

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x CONTENTS 6 OVERCOMING PERCEIVED OBSTACLES TO ACTIONS ............ 57 Scientific Understanding............................................................................. 57 Planning, Allocations, and Past Actions ..................................................... 59 Legal, Institutional, and Regulatory Authorities ........................................ 60 Financial and Economic ............................................................................. 61 Leadership.................................................................................................. 62 References ........................................................................................................ 63 Appendixes Statement of Task ...................................................................................... 71 Guest Speakers at Committee Meetings ..................................................... 73 Committee Biographical Information ........................................................ 75