Nutrient pollution is a key concern in an agricultural state like Missouri. We know that excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, trigger rapid algal blooms in our waterways. Algal blooms quickly deplete oxygen levels and reduce once thriving aquatic systems to “dead zones.” The Gulf dead zone is a well-known issue, but the effects of nutrient pollution have also created dead zones and fish kills in our Missouri lakes.
Addressing nutrient pollution and the Gulf Dead Zone requires that organizations and stakeholders all along the Mississippi River Basin gather and collaborate. The Gulf Hypoxia Task Force is a partnership of 12 states, five federal agencies, and a representative for tribes that works to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin and the extent of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The Task Force met in Baton Rouge on May 16, 2019, and MCE’s Water Policy Director Maisah Khan attended the public meeting via webcast.
The Task Force meeting was an important occasion for member agencies and states to advance implementation of the Action Plan for Reducing Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and to inform the public about the specific steps that are being taken to achieve the Plan’s goals.
Chief among those goals is the commitment by federal agencies and Task Force states to achieve an Interim Target of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loading to the Gulf by 20 percent by the year 2025, as a key step in reaching an average annual size of the Hypoxic Zone of 5,000 square kilometers by the year 2035.
MCE signed-on to the Mississippi River Network’s letter urging the Task Force mobilize their agencies, pursue needed resources, and enlist public support to achieve the milestones mentioned above for reducing the Gulf hypoxic zone and improving water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. MCE also sent a letter directly to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (Missouri’s state agency member of the Task Force) to encourage them to be ambitious in achieving these targets at the state-level.
You can read both comment letters by clicking on the images below.