June 16, 2008

Gulf of Mexico Water Quality Studied

A U.S. governmental task force has released a plan that involves state and federal officials in reducing hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The plan, which includes proposals for improving water quality in the Mississippi River basin water, was released Monday by the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force. It builds on recommendations issued in 2001 by incorporating innovative approaches and the latest science, including findings from the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board.

Our improved plan unites governments and citizens across the country to take action upstream and along the coast to reduce river nutrient pollution and increase Gulf of Mexico health, said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles. Sound science, cooperative conservation, and innovation will accelerate environmental progress throughout the 31-state watershed and this plan puts us on a course to do just that.

Officials said nutrients are important to the environment, but too much, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, can harm water quality by feeding algae blooms and creating oxygen-deprived dead zones where marine life can not survive.

Nutrients from the 31-state Mississippi River watershed are carried downstream and into the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers.