Upstream Pollution Leaves Huge Gulf Dead Zone

Jun 19, 2013

Scientists in Louisiana are reporting that this year may see the largest dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico ever recorded.    

The dead zone in the Gulf is caused primarily by fertilizers and livestock waste entering the watershed and traveling downstream.   The high level of pollution leads to a zone of no oxygen in the water that kills aquatic life.   

Pollution from farm fertilizers and ranch feedlots can leave a trail of pollution from the source all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. This years dead zone in the Gulf may end up as the largest ever recorded.

This year’s dead zone is predicted to cover over 8500 square miles.

Dr. Nancy Rabalais is a professor at Louisiana University who heads up the Marine Consortium there.    She says reducing pollution up stream in places like South Dakota can insure clean water all the way to the Gulf.    

“The low oxygen zone in the Gulf of Mexico is the second largest human caused such area in the world there are many others so the same things we’re doing in our watershed is happening elsewhere around the world and it’s a wake-up call to better management of our water and our land,” says Rabalais

Rabalais says better land management practices and the restoration of upstream wetlands can help curb the problem.