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‘Dead zone’ task force states, including Iowa, getting $840,000 from EPA

A brown pelican and three caspian terns on the remnants of a pier in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at Gulfport, Miss.
A brown pelican and three caspian terns on the remnants of a pier in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, at Gulfport, Miss.(Charlie Riedel | AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 5:22 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The federal government is giving $840,000 to the 12 states in a task force created to find ways to reduce the size of the oxygen-starved “dead zone” that forms every year off Louisiana and spreads into Texas waters.

Although the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force was created in fall 1997, the area where there’s too little oxygen to sustain marine life has remained about the same. Hurricane Barry reduced last year’s hypoxic zone, but it was still the eighth-largest on record. The record was set in 2017.

The major cause is nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from farm and urban runoff. Fertilizer and other nutrients feed algae, which die and decompose on the sea floor, using up oxygen.

A University of Iowa study in 2018 found that Mississippi River nitrogen pollution from Iowa had grown 47 percent over nearly two decades.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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