U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Science Advisory Board
Background Information

Document NameLeast-cost management of nonpoint source pollution: source reduction versus interception strategies for controlling nitrogen loss in the Mississippi Basin.
Document AuthorRibaudo, M.O.
Heimlich, R.
Claassen, R.
Peters, M.
Short DescriptionEcological Economics 37:183-197.
CategorySubgroup 3: Scientific Basis for Goals and Management Options
Publication Year2001

Abstract: Nutrient pollution is one of the major sources of water quality impairments in the U.S. Agriculture is a major source of nutrients. Two alternative strategies for reducing nutrient loads from cropland are to reduce fertilizer application rates and to filter nutrients coming off cropland with restored wetlands. These two approaches are evaluated in the Mississippi Basin, where nutrient loadings to the Gulf of Mexico have caused a large zone of hypoxic waters. Because of the easement and restoration costs of wetlands, a fertilizer standard was found to be more cost effective than restoring wetlands for achieving a water quality goal up to a particular level of total nitrogen loss reduction. Beyond this point, wetland restorations are more cost-effective.