Indiana among worst contributors to Gulf ‘dead zone’

Associated Press, Feb 4, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Indiana is among the worst pollutors of a nearly 8,000 square-mile patch in the Gulf of Mexico.

The survey says Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi represent one third of the 31-state Mississippi River drainage basin, but are responsible for more than 75% of the nitrogen and phosphorous that deplete oxygen from the Gulf. The oxygen depletion kills fish, crabs, clams and shrimp.

According to a study by the survey, the excessive amount of nitrogen is caused mainly by corn and soybean farming and reaches the Gulf through other waterways. The overabundance of phosphorous is primarily caused by animal manure on pasture and rangelands.

Bruno Pigott, an assistant commissioner with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s office of water quality, says the agency is reviewing the report and has been working on nutrient issues for years.