America’s Watershed Initiative

America’s Watershed Initiative

Uniting people, land & water across 31 states.

America’s Watershed Initiative is a collaboration working with hundreds of business, government, academic, and civic organizations to find solutions for the challenges of managing the Mississippi River and the more than 250 rivers that flow into it. Only by working together—coordinated, focused and for the long term—will we make meaningful progress to raise the grades for America’s Watershed, for our future, and for our children’s future.

The Mississippi River Watershed IS America's Watershed

The fourth largest watershed in the world, the Mississippi River Watershed carries the waters from the Rocky Mountains, the north woods of Minnesota and the Appalachian mountains, through delta wetlands and into the Gulf of Mexico. Thousands of miles of rivers, thousands of communities and millions of people make this watershed America’s Watershed. America’s history, environment, prosperity and future depend on the waters that flow though these heartland rivers.

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Benefitting people and nature

The rivers in America’s Watershed provide drinking water for millions of people. Water here is used to produce agricultural products worth more than $50 billion annually and much of America’s energy, including nearly 25 percent of the nation’s hydropower. The transportation network in America’s Watershed moves millions of tons of goods safely, reliably, and efficiently, generating billions in economic benefit. And the system’s rivers and wetlands provide unique wildlife, habitat and recreational opportunities.

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America’s Watershed Initiative Report Card

The Report Card measures six broad goals for America’s Watershed – Ecosystems, Flood Control & Risk Reduction, Transportation, Water Supply, Economy, and Recreation. The Report Card measures how well we are currently meeting each one of these goals, using real data and relevant information that was identified by experts in these fields. Over time, as we adapt our management strategies for the Mississippi River watershed, the Report Card can track our progress in achieving our objectives.

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America’s Watershed Initiative is a collaboration that seeks solutions for meeting the multiple demands placed on the vast and complex Mississippi watershed system by integrating issues, partners and ideas at the full watershed scale.

It seeks to build and implement a vision based on collaboration and mutually beneficial outcomes in contrast to single purpose advocacy. It builds upon strong leadership present in many tributary watersheds. America’s Watershed also seeks to link and augment these efforts, creating a broader partnership that can serve as a unified voice for the whole system, and support the effective resolution of issues that span multiple regions—issues such as energy, transportation, water quality and floodplain management.


Key outcomes include:

  • Build recognition among regional and national leaders about the importance of the watershed and the need for integrated management.
  • Establish an enduring, public-private facilitating entity to connect existing institutions and stakeholders and harness the best science in service of a shared vision and more integrated management of the watershed.
  • Develop and report on measures that indicate progress toward achieving the sustainable management and system-wide health of America’s Watershed.
  • Elevate local and regional projects that demonstrate effective collaboration and integrated strategies that help achieve system-level objectives.
  • Network with river commissions and similar entities in North America and globally, establishing America’s Watershed as a hub for sharing knowledge and best practices related to the management of large rivers and their watersheds.