MANY STATES, ONE DEAD ZONE
How State Nutrient Reduction Strategies Can Help Save the Gulf of Mexico
The Mississippi River is truly America’s River—a critical source of drinking water for 20 million people, a diverse habitat for wildlife, the backbone of our economy, and a rich part of our heritage. The Mississippi River unites us as a people and we rely on it more than most of us realize.
The Mississippi River’s banks touch ten states and ferries water from 32 down to the Gulf of Mexico. It truly is at the heart of the United States—geographically, economically, and culturally.
Yet, the River’s vast, interconnectedness is also at the heart of its troubles.
Because the River collects water from so many tributaries and lands, it is also collecting pollution from as many different sources. In order to restore the River and protect it for future generations, a lot of states, agencies, and people have to get on board and work together.
For the good of the River and the Gulf of Mexico, 12 states along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers formed the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force. This taskforce is dedicated to reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Gulf of Mexico by 20% by the year 2025 and to ultimately reduce the annual size of the Gulf Hypoxic Zone to 1,950 square miles by the year 2035.
The 12 member states are: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. This region is a major agricultural producer for the United States, as well as home to several major cities, all of which contribute the nutrients that result in hypoxia offshore in the Gulf.