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Collaboration and Partnerships

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Building Innovative Industry-Producer Partnerships to
Reduce Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico
EPA Region 4 - Atlanta

Geographic location or area of activity:  Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Delta, and communities surrounding the Mississippi River

Gulf of Mexico HypoxiaDescription of activity:  Forming new partnerships between industry leaders and agricultural producers in the Mississippi River Basin will bring innovative, effective approaches for addressing complex nutrient management challenges directly to the local level.  The project will facilitate the identification of nutrient reduction strategies, formation of local producer coalitions and development of nutrient reduction management plans. The interconnectedness of our water       
systems is more apparent at the local level.

Each summer dissolved oxygen levels are depleted by decaying algae in the Gulf of Mexico; thereby, creating an enormous hypoxic zone, or “dead zone”.  The result is an aquatic ecosystem temporarily unable to support fish and other life. The algae that cause the hypoxic zone are fed, in part, by nutrient runoff from the entire Mississippi River Basin – a drainage area of over 40 percent of the United States. The sources of those nutrients can potentially include failing septic systems in Nebraska, sewer overflow in up-state New York, lawn fertilizer in Ohio or excessive application of nutrients on cropland in Iowa.  The sources are many, but the USEPA's Gulf of Mexico Program has committed to “support national efforts to reduce the five-year running average areal extent of the Gulf hypoxia zone to less than 1,930 square miles (5,000 square kilometers) by 2015.”  It’s an optimistic goal that will require addressing nutrient reduction from numerous sources and a wide variety of solutions unique to each nutrient source.  One solution in the agriculture industry is proper application of nutrients to cropland. EPA has funded several projects to encourage this practice.

Project Goals:

Interagency partners:  Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Commerce;    
Department of Transportation; Department of Health and Human Services; Department of Agriculture; Department of Interior; Department of Homeland Security; National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Local partners: Agriculture Interests Groups; Environmental Interests Groups; Business and Industry interests Groups; States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida; Cities and counties on the Gulf Coast

Activity URLshttps://www.epa.gov/gmpo,   https://www.epa.gov/gmpo/lmrsbc/index.html

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