Water, Equity & Infrastructure

Flyover: Down the Mississippi River


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In July 2018, the Water Main helped Flyover from MPR News produce a special week of radio shows and live events focused on the Mississippi River. The collaboration also included the US Water Alliance, Iowa Public Radio and WWNO in New Orleans.

 
 

 

It’s hard to exaggerate the role of the Mississippi River in America’s culture and economic fortunes. It has inspired the imagination of artists ranging from Mark Twain to Ike and Tina Turner. Its path is home to some of the world’s most agriculturally productive land. Forty percent of the nation’s farming output moves on the Mississippi, making it a key conduit for global trade. And many industries have located along the river to secure easy access to the water needed in their operations. Just think of Anheuser Busch in St. Louis, not to mention the petrochemical companies clustered between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The Mississippi River is the source of drinking water for 20 million Americans.

The Mississippi River generates over $405 billion in annual revenue, directly supports 1.3 million jobs and is the source of drinking water for 20 million Americans. This all amplifies the size and urgency of the issues facing it. Runoff from midwestern farm fields drains down the river and is creating a dead zone the size of Connecticut in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say the river is flooding more than it has in 500 years, potentially causing turmoil for people along its shores.

Over the last several years, the Mississippi River Valley has sustained successive 100, 200 and 500-year flood events, a 50-year drought, Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Isaac. The drought of 2012 alone cost our nation $35 billion in losses.
— Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative
 

 

Podcast Episodes

Series Kickoff, July 12th

We kicked off the series at the U.S. Water Alliance One Water Summit, exploring how water divides and unites rural and urban America. While water issues may seem very different between cities and the countryside, urban and rural America also share common ground: preserving water quality, ensuring a reliable water supply, infrastructure needs, affordability and more. Listen to the recording >>

Day One, July 16th

We started this conversation in the same state the river begins: Minnesota. Host Kerri Miller sets the tone for the week by discussing the history and culture of the Mighty Mississippi and how it has shaped our identity in the heart of the country. Listen to the recording >>

Day Two, July 17th

Once we established the river’s past we talked about its future. This episode focuses on the issue being debated up and down the Mississippi: Who gets to decide how the river is managed? Listen to the recording >>

Day Three, July 18th

We took the show on the road and broadcasted with our partners at Iowa Public Radio in Iowa City. Keri and guests discussed the importance of agriculture in the Mississippi watershed and how land use and runoff affect the river. Listen to the recording >>

Day Four, July 19th

Broadcasted live from WWNO in New Orleans, the conversation focused on how this city and other municipalities across the country are grappling with climate change while also working to improve equity and opportunity along the river. Listen to the recording >>

Day Five, July 20th

On the last day of our week-long special, we wrapped up our journey with a community conversation on solutions to the problems faced by people in the river’s watershed. From the Larose Civic Center in Louisiana, Kerri Miller spoke to a gathering of engineers, educators, shrimpers and others about their ideas for improving quality life along the Mississippi River watershed. Listen to the recording >>

 

 

Live Events

One Water Summit – Can Water Bridge the Urban-Rural Divide in America?

In Partnership with the U.S. Water Alliance

Of all the growing divides in America, none is sharper than between city and country. From economics, to politics, to way of life, it can seem at times that we are pulling apart as a nation. During this hour-long panel, taped at the U.S. Water Alliance One Water Summit, we explored how water divides and unites rural and urban America. While water issues may seem very different between cities and the countryside, urban and rural America also share common ground: preserving water quality, ensuring a reliable water supply, infrastructure needs, affordability, and more.

Public Radio on Tap: A Conversation on Water Quality

In Partnership with Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Public Radio host and reporter Clay Masters dive into a conversation with Eastern Iowa farmers, a New Orleans shrimper, and other stakeholders from the field of water resources in Iowa, and then open the floor to questions from the audience at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City.

Voices from the Bayou

In Partnership with WWNO

From the Larose Civic Center deepin Louisiana's Mississippi River delta, we broadcasted a live-to-tape townhall. Engineers, educators, shrimpers and others shared their ideas about improving quality of life along the Mississippi River watershed.

 

Mississippi River Quiz


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 Photo by Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News

Photo by Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News

MPR News

Live at the Fair: Explorer Ann Bancroft on her plans to travel the Mississippi

Seven continents in ten years, that’s explorer and educator Ann Bancroft’s plan. She and her team of international women are working on events across the globe to bring to light the importance of rivers. Her first trip was down the Ganges River in India, next was the Mississippi in 2018. Read the article.

 
 Photo by Scott Olson | Getty Images

Photo by Scott Olson | Getty Images

Marketplace

Midwestern farmers are tied to a Gulf dead zone

A massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico grew to the largest size on record this year, expanding to an area as big as the state of New Jersey. Rivers and streams across a huge swath of middle America drain into the Mississippi River and then down into the Gulf, and the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus accumulate in that water as it washes down, too. Read the article.