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Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force to Meet in Des Moines
Illinois Ag Connection - 09/06/2012

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will be hosting a meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force in the Des Moines area on Sept. 11 and 12. More than 75 federal and state government officials and organization representatives are expected to participate in the task force meeting.

The Task Force is made up of members from five federal agencies and twelve state agencies and is working to address the environmental concerns associated with the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia zone, also known as the "dead zone."

Many factors contribute to hypoxia in the Gulf, with nutrient loads from upstream watersheds being one area of concern. Nitrogen and phosphorous loads entering the Gulf from the Mississippi River contribute to the hypoxic zone by spurring the growth of algae which deplete the water of oxygen when they die and decay. This is one of several areas that the Task Force coordinates activities on to reduce the size, severity, and duration of the hypoxic zone in the Gulf.

The Task Force will have a public meeting at the Hotel Fort Des Moines from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 11.

The Task Force will then participate in science expo focused on new technologies to improve water quality from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 12. Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force members will be joined by members of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to learn more about new science and technologies that are becoming available to farmers to reduce nutrient transport from our farms. A wide variety of private and public sector exhibitors will demonstrate the broad cross-section of new technologies and emerging science that offer promise to reduce nutrient transport to water from cropped lands.

NASDA members will join Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force members to learn more about new science and technologies that are becoming available to farmers to reduce nutrient transport from our farms. A wide variety of private and public sector exhibitors will demonstrate the broad cross-section of new technologies and emerging science that offer promise to reduce nutrient transport to water from cropped lands.

The Federal agencies that are part of the task force are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and Arkansas are also represented on the Task Force.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force was established in the fall of 1997 to understand the causes and effects of eutrophication in the Gulf of Mexico; coordinate activities to reduce the size, severity, and duration; and ameliorate the effects of hypoxia. Activities include coordinating and supporting nutrient management activities from all sources, restoring habitats to trap and assimilate nutrients, and supporting other hypoxia related activities in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico watersheds.

More information about the Task Force can be found on EPA's Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia website at www.epa.gov/msbasin.

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