Louisiana Signs New Hypoxia Action Plan with Other Mississippi River States

Louisiana CPRA For Immediate Release: June 16, 2008
Contact: Chris Macaluso
(225) 342-3968


NEW ORLEANS — The State of Louisiana joined the eight other states along the Mississippi River, the State of Ohio and several federal agencies in signing a revised national action plan to reduce hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico at a meeting of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force Monday in New Orleans.

Garret Graves, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, reminded members of the Task Force of the absolute need to clean the water in the Mississippi River since that water and sediment are the most important resources needed to restore and sustain Louisiana’s rapidly eroding coastal marshes.

"The Jindal Administration has made it a priority for Louisiana to take the lead in reducing the amount of nutrients and contaminants flowing into the Mississippi and its tributaries," Graves said. "The Mississippi River built almost all of South Louisiana. We will rely upon it to help us rebuild what has washed away over the last century. The river must be healthy in order for us to succeed."

The revised action plan calls for all involved to continue and expand activities to reduce the amount of nitrates and phosphorus emptying into the Mississippi River Basin from farm fertilizers and urban runoff. These nutrients are responsible for fueling the enormous algae blooms that cause the large area of oxygen depleted water in the Gulf of Mexico every summer known as the "dead zone."

Researchers studying the dead zone say this year’s may be the largest ever recorded thanks to increased fertilizer use in the Midwest and flooding along the Mississippi River dumping more water than usual into the Gulf of Mexico.

Graves said Louisiana is the source of very little of the contamination yet must deal with the consequences of pollution from other states. He said the state is not only concerned with rebuilding and restoring coastal marshes but also is trying to preserve fisheries stocks that are vitally important to the nation.

"The Gulf’s world class recreational and commercial fishing is at stake," he said. "This industry is not only a major contributor to the region’s economy, but is a huge part of the heritage of the people of our state and region. The culture of fishing has shaped South Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf and we must do all we can to preserve that culture."

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, N.O.A.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers first formed the task force in 1998. Ohio joined voluntarily in 2002 because the Ohio River supplies a large portion of the water in the lower Mississippi River.

The Action Plan is a voluntary effort that supports state and federal initiatives to reduce nutrient runoff into the river while encouraging private projects to do the same.

"The action plan signed today will provide a solid foundation for an aggressive program to reduce and eliminate the nutrients that cause the Gulf dead zone." Graves said. "The $300 million that Governor Jindal and the legislature provided earlier this year for coastal restoration and hurricane protection will allow us to move forward on river diversions that will help to filter nutrients and restore our coastal area, a win-win for Louisiana."

The action plan can be read by clicking the following link: http://epa.gov/msbasin/taskforce/actionplan08.htm