Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story
|Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story|
|Produced by||Larkin McPhee, Barbara Coffin, Bell Museum of Natural History|
|Distributed by||Video Project|
|3 October 2010|
Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story is a documentary film about the relationship between farming practices, soil erosion, and water pollution.
This documentary film depicts degradation of soil quality and contamination of streams, rivers, and other water bodies including the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico as unintended consequences of the agricultural system predominant in the Upper Midwest of the United States, which is highly productive but heavily dependent on the application of large amount of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers and on intensive cultivation. The film also explains the importance of taking steps to replace current farming techniques with more sustainable practices. Reviewers praised the film's presentation of established science regarding the causes of the "Dead Zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, along with examples of farmers implementing practices to address various causes of pollution.  Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story was awarded three Emmys in 2011, including Best Topical Documentary, Best Writer of Program (non-news), and Best Editor of Program (non-news).
The production budget for the documentary was $500,000. The largest share was $349,000 provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as allocated by Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). Additional funding was provided by the McKnight Foundation and the Mississippi River Fund. 
University of Minnesota Vice President for University Relations Karen Himle intervened to cancel the film's premier on Twin Cities Public Television approximately one month prior to its scheduled broadcast. This decision was made without informing the film's produces or funders. News of Himle's decision led to public outcry and calls for her resignation. The cancellation was reversed, and the film was broadcast on the originally scheduled date. Administrators in the University's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences objected to elements of the film, but denied playing a role in the decision to cancel the premier. The episode led to a series of discussions related to academic freedom at the University, and ultimately to new measures protect academic work from pressures from administrators and donors. 
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