This year’s dead zone could be largest ever recorded

By WAFB Channel 9
June 18, 2008 05:33 PM CDT

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) – This year’s dead zone, an area that has little marine life because of a lack of oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, could become the largest one ever recorded.
A growing dead zone in the gulf may have a lot to do with a rising Mississippi River.
The DEQ says flooding in the Midwest, the same flooding that caused the Bonnet Carre Spillway to open this spring, may be causing the dead zone to get bigger.
That’s because the main cause of dead zones around the world is agricultural runoff, like fertilizers, which are loaded with nitrogen and phosphate.
When those fertilizers come down the river and mix in with the warm gulf waters, a dead zone is born and a lack of oxygen in the water is killing marine life.
"What we need is strong action in upriver states to reduce the nutrients coming into the river," says Cynthia Sarthou with Gulf Restoration Network.
Scientists won’t know how large this year’s dead zone is until they finish their studies of it later this summer.
A task force is looking into several ideas to help reduce fertilizer runoff in the gulf.