Fact Sheet

The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI)


Mississippi River

NCEL Point of Contact

Chris Askew-Merwin
Sustainable Agriculture and Water Specialist



The Mississippi River is an important ecological, economic, and cultural resource that is in severe decline. Despite the river’s value to the communities and wildlife throughout the nation, fundamental changes to the river, its floodplain, and coastal wetlands have led to more flooding, less wildlife, fewer jobs, reduced recreational opportunities, and higher costs for keeping communities safe and ensuring that they have clean drinking water. The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) would create a framework to help reverse the decline of the Mississippi River.

Key Points

Key Point 1

The Mississippi River supplies drinking water to more than 20 million people in 50 cities, drives a vibrant recreation-based economy that generates nearly $500 billion in annual revenue, and supports more than 780 species of fish and wildlife. (Conservation Federation of Missouri)

Key Point 2

Polluted runoff has drastically reduced water quality and created a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. (Restore the Mississippi River Delta)

Key Point 3

MRRRI would provide resources to improve the health and resilience of the River system for communities, wildlife, and the economy by filling a clear gap in our nation’s regional restoration initiatives.

MRRRI Key Components

Modeled after the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) would create the interstate framework needed to reverse the decline of the Mississippi River by working to:

  • Improve water quality by reducing the levels of polluted runoff, excess nutrients, and sediments from entering the river system;
  • Improve community resilience by restoring riparian ecosystems to a state in which they can minimize flood and storm risks;
  • Restore wildlife habitats along the Mississippi River through methods such as reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species in the river system;
  • Prioritize these efforts to relieve the disproportionate impacts of the river’s degradation felt by communities of color, rural communities, and economically disadvantaged communities.

The MRRRI budget would deliver funding to projects in the mainstem Mississippi River States, including through grants to states and local governments. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would work in close collaboration with relevant Federal agencies, States, Tribes, local government, and non-governmental organizations to develop the MRRRI Action Plan and identify funding recipients. 


NCEL Resources

Online Resources

Mississippi River Legislative Caucus (MRLC)

This initiative is aimed at assisting river legislators who are committed to a thriving, healthy Mississippi River.

Go to resource
Flood Resilience - NCEL

NCEL's webpage on improving flood resilience. Includes relevant facts and policies.

Go to resource
MRRRI One-Pager - Conservation Federation of Missouri

This one-pager gives an overview of MRRRI and the many environmental and human benefits it could provide.

Go to resource
MRRRI Legislation Draft

Draft legislative text for MRRI.

Go to resource

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