ST. LOUIS – A environmental nonprofit has placed the Mississippi River on a list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers and is calling for the federal government to fund restortation efforts for all of the waterways on the ranking in order to preserve the local ecosystems and, in doing so, protect the people and businesses that operate along the rivers.

The organization American Rivers estimates two-thirds of our drinking water comes from rivers and streams in the United States. And according to the National Park Service, between 18 to 20 million Americans rely on the Mississippi River for their drinking water.

The Big Muddy runs from Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, winding its way either through or along 10 states. However, the river’s watershed covers all or part of 32 states (approximately 41% of the land in the continental U.S.) and two Canadian provinces, making it the second-largest drainage basin in North America.

However, pollution and habitat loss, combined with the ongoing effects of climate change, threaten millions along the basin. Farm fertilizers, microplastics, and pharmaceuticals are contaminating drinking water and causing toxic algae blooms in the river.

To combat the growing threat to the Mississippi, American Rivers is calling on Congress to pass the Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) Act. If passed, it would allocate an estimated $300 million or more annually to federal, state, tribal, and community agencies and organizations to improve water quality, restore habitat and natural systems, reduce aquatic invasive species, and build local resilience to natural disasters in and along the Mississippi River.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2022

1. Colorado River
State: CO, UT, AZ, NV, CA, WY, NM, Mexico
Threat: Climate change, outdated water management

2. Snake River
State: ID, WA, OR
Threat: Four federal dams

3. Mobile River
State: AL
Threat: Coal ash contamination

4. Maine’s Atlantic Salmon Rivers
State: ME
Threat: Dams

5. Coosa River
State: TN, GA, AL
Threat: Agricultural pollution

6. Mississippi River
State: MN, WI, IL, IA, MO, KY, TN, AR, MS, LA
Threat: Pollution, habitat loss

7. Lower Kern River
State: CA
Threat: Excessive water withdrawals

8. San Pedro River
State: AZ
Threat: Excessive water pumping; loss of Clean Water Act protections

9. Los Angeles River
State: CA
Threat: Development, pollution

10. Tar Creek
State: OK
Threat: Pollution

list of america's most endangered rivers
1) Colorado River; 2) Snake River; 3) Mobile River; 4) Maine’s Atlantic Salmon Rivers; 5) Coosa River; 6) Mississippi River; 7) Lower Kern River; 8) San Pedro River; 9) Los Angeles River; 10) Tar Creek.
(Graphic: America’s Most Endangered Rivers)

The 10 rivers on this list were selected based on three criteria: the river’s significance to people and wildlife, the magnitude of the threat to the river and communities, especially in light of climate change and justice, and a decision in the next 12 months that the public can influence.

The Mississippi River previously appeared on this list in 1992, 1994-1996, 2001, 2004, and 2011.