Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Pollution Assessment and Prevention in Mississippi

The risk of contamination to water quality and the environment is an important one for every citizen. Assessing the risks associated with pollution is an important first step to preventing pollution problems.

Whether we like to admit it, each of us plays a role in creating the pollution that is a threat to our natural resources. And, as we each share in this responsibility, it is up to each of us as individuals to accept the responsibility to do our part to minimize the risk of pollution. While we cannot prevent pollution totally, it is important that we manage it.

Pollution comes in many forms and results from many causes - roadside litter, misapplication or over-application of pesticides and fertilizers, failing or inadequate septic systems, wastewater treatment facilities, improperly disposed of chemicals or wastes, and runoff from lawns, parking lots, farmland and industrial sites, to name a few. Through individual commitment and education, we can all do our part to minimize pollution from all sources.

Conditions in Your Area

Under the authority of the Federal Clean Water Act, individual states are required to assess their waters to develop a list of water-quality impaired lakes and streams. An impaired waterbody is one whose water quality does not support designated uses such as drinking water, primary (swimming) contact, secondary contact (fishing), and aquatic wildlife habitat. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for establishing TMDLs (total maximum daily loads, in Mississippi. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also provides information on impaired waterbodies in Mississippi.

Extension Outreach

Mississippi State University (MSU) is home to the MSU Extension Service which develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach to all counties of the state. This outreach enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which may be a home or business owner, farmer, gardener or a young person interested in environmental issues. Here are some major Extension education programs that address pollution assessment and prevention:

The Mississippi Waste Pesticide Disposal Program has helped more than 900 Mississippi farmers dispose of almost 1 million pounds of leftover agricultural pesticides through environmentally approved methods. This program has directly benefited cleanup.jpgMississippi's rural environment by removing hazardous products that could be a threat to water quality, human health and wildlife.

The Mississippi Farm*A*Syst and Home*A*Syst programs are an ideal tool to assess pollution potential from many potential sources. These self-assessments give farmers and other homeowners an opportunity to voluntarily assess activities or conditions that may be a risk to water quality, and to take proactive steps to reduce those risks. More than 3,000 farmers and other residents in Mississippi have received information about Farm*A*Syst and Home*A*Syst through field days and other educational programs.

Through groundwater education programs using aquifer models, more than 5,000 young people in Mississippi receive information each year about ways water may be contaminated and steps to reduce the risk of contamination. This information is presented at conservation field days, in schools and other programs.

More than 2,000 limited resource farmers have received similar information about the environmental impacts of forestry operations through the Mississippi Underserved Forestry Landowner Program This program reaches many audiences who have never used Extension or other programs available as a free service to citizens of the state.

Crop fertility management and other production practices for efficient crop growth and water quality protection are important parts of nutrient management plans. Nutrient msnmanage.jpgmanagement plans for site-specific situations minimize undesired environmental effects while optimizing farm profits and production. The MSU Extension Service is a key source of information on best management practices (BMP’s) for soil management in Mississippi.

The Master Gardener program conducted by MSU Extension Service provides information on determining appropriate amounts of pesticides and fertilizers to use on lawns and gardens so that productivity is enhanced while runoff of pesticides and fertilizers is diminished.

Pesticide applicator certification is a legal requirement for persons applying msmasgard.jpgrestricted-use pesticides in any situation, as well as for those individuals who apply general-use products in a commercial situation. The MSU Extension Service conducts training courses for private pesticide applicators to become certified.

MSU Extension Service also provided technical and educational assistance to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in the development of a Total Maximum Daily Load allocation for fecal coliform bacteria in St. Louis Bay, an estuary of the Gulf of Mexico. This area is among the state's most pristine water resources and supports a variety of use functions, including drinking, shellfish harvesting and recreation.


Many research activities associated with water quality and pollution assessment are conducted through the MSU Nutrient Management and Water Quality Task Force. This multidisciplinary group was formed to address specific water quality related issues such as animal waste management and other emerging issues.

College and University Education

Education is critical to develop the human resources necessary to address current and future water quality issues. In addition to Extension and research programs, relevant training is available in several departments at MSU, including:

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