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Introduction How Rivers Run Stories Value Of A River What We Can Do
From Farmer to Shrimper: The Dead Zone
(pg 6 of 8)

Solving the dead zone puzzle might be easier if the pain was felt closer to the source of the problem. Unfortunately, cause and effect are separated by more than 1,000 miles. The concerns of Louisiana shrimpers don't have much political sway in the farming towns of southern Minnesota.

Nonetheless, in 2001 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented Congress an "action plan" for resuscitating the gulf by 2015. The proposed $15 billion plan calls for cutting the average size of the dead zone in half and reducing the amount of nutrients, especially nitrogen, entering the Gulf via the Mississippi by 30 percent.

Among the ways the EPA hopes to accomplish these aims:

  • Encourage the reduction of nonpoint-source pollution under existing federal programs.
  • Provide incentives to grain and livestock producers to reduce nitrogen runoff.
  • Restore and protect natural cover under programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program and the Grassland Reserve Program to retard runoff.
  • Step up monitoring and assessment of public waters and adopt new water quality standards under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.
  • Encourage the restoration of natural buffer strips along streams.

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Valley Creek
Gulf of Mexico
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