Wave Maker’s News: Dead Zone Clean Up Must Start with Commitment from LA

This article is excerpted from Wave Maker’s News, our quarterly update on all things water in the Gulf of Mexico, check out the full newsletter here. In July, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) released a new water quality report, which includes the list of water bodies that the state considers “impaired.” This list is important because it is the basis upon which LDEQ develops their Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) plans, which, as EPA is fond of saying, is basically a pollution “diet” that determines how much pollution must be removed from the water in order for it to be considered not impaired. As you have read in past editions of Wave Maker’s, the Dead Zone in the Gulf is a reoccurring and urgent problem. Yet, in the recently released impaired waters list, LDEQ is suggesting that the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River do not need to be put on one of these “pollution diets” for Dead Zone-causing nitrogen and phosphorous. Instead, they claim that an entity called the Hypoxia Taskforce will address the problem. That doesn’t seem too likely, as the Taskforce has been in existence for approximately ten years, and has done little to reduce the Dead Zone in that time.If the Dead Zone is going to get cleaned up, Louisiana must take a stronger stance and be a voice for the Gulf, not apologists for the status quo. Relying on voluntary actions to clean up the Gulf has not solved the problem. Our leaders in Louisiana must do all they can to address Dead Zone pollution and also demand that the Mississippi River states do the same. If LDEQ will not even commit to figuring out how much pollution we need to remove from the Gulf, how can we ever develop a plan for cleaning it up? As Gulf citizens, we must demand more out of our state leaders and regulatory agencies.

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