'Dead zone' task force states getting $840,000 from EPA
NEW ORLEANS — The federal government is giving $840,000 to 12 states in a task force seeking ways to reduce the size of the low-oxygen "dead zone" that forms every year off Louisiana's coast.
The allocation, announced in an Environmental Protection Agency release Monday, adds to $1.2 million announced in August for the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force.
Although the task force was created in fall 1997, its work has had little effect on the size of the area with too little oxygen to sustain marine life.
Hurricane Barry reduced last year's hypoxic zone, but it was still the eighth-largest since mapping began in 1985. The record, set in 2017, was 8,776 square miles (22,720 square kilometers).
The major cause is nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from farm and urban runoff. Fertilizer and other nutrients feed algae, which die and decompose on the sea floor, using up oxygen.
A University of Iowa study in 2018 found that Mississippi River nitrogen pollution from Iowa had grown 47 percent over nearly two decades.
The task force is made up of eight agencies in five federal departments, the National Tribal Water Council, and the states of Iowa, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Illinois and Kentucky.