The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force announced a partnership with 12 land grant universities to support state-level strategies and actions to curb water pollution. The agreement is the first for the task force with non-governmental entities. The Hypoxia Task Force is a partnership of five federal agencies, tribes, and environmental quality, agricultural, and conservation agencies from 12 basin states working to address nutrient pollution and the hypoxic zone, or dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
The universities are: Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Arkansas, University of Kentucky, Mississippi State University, Ohio State University, University of Tennessee, University of Missouri, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University and Louisiana State University.
The universities are already conducting research on issues like soil conservation, water quality and how nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus travel in water bodies. University scientists and policy experts are working to put science into practice by providing educational programs for farmers, local businesses, and conservation and watershed management professionals.
Individual states are already collaborating with their respective land grant universities on local water quality research and agricultural programs, but to date there has not been a specific focus on the goals and activities of the task force or a formal process for sharing university research and ideas across the 12 task force states. This new network will bring additional expertise to help reduce nutrient runoff and advise the task force and other national policy makers.
Nutrient pollution is one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems, and is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the air and water. The impacts of nutrient pollution are found in all types of water bodies. More than 100,000 miles of rivers and streams, close to 2.5 million acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds, and more than 800 square miles of bays and estuaries in the United States have poor water quality because of nutrient pollution.