Photo Courtesy of "Jazz Guy" (

Photo Courtesy of “Jazz Guy” (

September 29, 2016

Dear, River Citizens,

Close your eyes for just a few seconds and imagine that you are looking at an American farm. What do you see? A farm house with rocking chairs on a wide front porch, a tractor puttering in a field and an American flag waving in the breeze? A major part of the United States’ identity includes beautiful, pastoral images of rolling farm fields and “amber waves of grain”. Farmers and everything they represent as careful stewards of our earth are an integral part of our country’s history and our future.

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

For generations farmers have worked hard to protect our land and water while producing food and other products at affordable prices. However, chemicals used in agriculture, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, often run off farm fields and into our rivers and streams, threatening our drinking water and the water used to grow our food. While chemical runoff comes from a variety of sources, such as grassy lawns, streets and wastewater treatment plants, agriculture is the largest source. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agriculture fields pollute more than 2 million acres of lakes and reservoirs and 80,000 miles of rivers and streams–including the Mississippi River.

Unprotected farm fields yield topsoil as well as farm fertilizers and other potential pollutants when heavy rains occur. Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

“Unprotected farm fields yield topsoil as well as farm fertilizers and other potential pollutants when heavy rains occur.” Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agricultural pollution can affect human health as it threatens drinking water supplies. Over 18 million people in 50 cities depend on the Mississippi River and its tributaries for drinking water. Agricultural runoff pollution also threatens the places where people like to recreate. It closes our favorite swimming beaches, contaminates fish and other wildlife and hurts the outdoor recreation and tourism economy.

Photo courtesy of Aqua Mechanical (

Photo courtesy of Aqua Mechanical (

Fortunately, conservation programs offer tools and resources that can help farmers stop pollution at its source and ensure our families have clean water to drink. Investing in conservation now is more effective and costs less than cleaning up our River later. 

However, our state and federal governments must prioritize preventing and cleaning up agricultural pollution. States are dragging their feet on completing and implementing plans on how to best use and fund conservation programs to encourage farmers to implement proven solutions. The federal government continues to cut funding for conservation initiatives and allows agriculture to continue some polluting practices while still getting federal subsidies.

But, there is hope!  Many of our local, state and national leaders have deep connections to the Mississippi River and want to pass legislation that will help our mighty River. But they need to hear from you, River Citizens, that protecting the River must be a top priority.

Over the next few months, 1 Mississippi will provide you with opportunities to reach out to decision makers to urge them to pass legislation that will protect our mighty River, drinking water and favorite fishing, swimming and scenic places.  We will also keep you informed of the many exciting events that are happening throughout the Mississippi River region so that you can learn about and engage with the River in fun and unique ways. Stay tuned to these newsletters, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website often for updates and actions!

American farmers are stewards of the Earth and they care for our land and water. It’s time for our legislators to do the same.

Thank you, River Citizens, for all that you do to protect the Mississippi River!

Brooke Thurau

1 Mississippi Campaign Coordinator










Why are you a River Citizen?

“I am now a River Citizen because I find it paramount for our city of Memphis to maintain the resource that created us. Keeping a clean river and maintaining the natural wildlife that inhabits it is crucial to the overall wellbeing of our environment and I want to do my part to help maintain it.”
Alex Gephart
Memphis, TN

Please tell us why you’re a River Citizen by emailing 1 Mississippi Campaign Coordinator, Brooke Thurau, at You will be eligible to win a signed copy of Paul Schneider’s book, “Old Man River,” and a 1 Mississippi t-shirt!