EPA rejects dead zone cleanup plan

By James Bruggers Louisville Courier-Journal
5 Aug 2011

Water quality advocates within the Mississippi Basin have been denied their request for national numeric water quality standards aimed at shrinking the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s "dead zone." The area of low to no oxygen forms every year, a result of pollution washing down from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, including contributions from Kentucky and Indiana.

Kentucky Waterways Alliance was part of the Mississippi River Cooperative petition to the EPA that sought strict standards.

From KWA:

The EPA called on states in 1998 to adopt specific limits on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, threatening to enact its own limits if states had not complied by 2003. Every state along the Mississippi River has ignored that and other deadlines set by EPA, but so far, the federal government has failed to supply urgently needed protections. As a result, inland water pollution problems have multiplied while the Dead Zone makes its annual appearance — each time bringing with it damage to the coastal residents and their livelihood.

"For years the Kentucky Division Water has said they are committed to developing numeric limits for phosphorus and nitrogen pollution in our rivers and streams. Yet, they recently made a statement that they would again delay proposing limits on these pollutants due to insufficient data,” said Judy Petersen, Executive Director, Kentucky Waterways Alliance. “This is despite the fact that they have received several EPA grants in the last few years to assist in filling in these very data gaps. We need the state to set these limits now and prevent the further devastation of our waterways.”

Last week, EPA  told the environmentalists they agree nitrogen and phosphorous are a problem but that it’s not practical for the EPA to set the standards for such a large part of the country. They still want the states to do so, EPA said.

EPA insisted they are working on the problem and they have for years. This summer the dead zone had been predicted to be as big as ever but ended up being larger than average but not a record. Look here. And for the original press release on this year’s survey, look here:




Read more from KWA here, and read the full letter from the EPA here.