POSTED: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 6:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 6:04am
LOUISIANA — The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) $100,000 to reduce hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. This area in the northern Gulf of Mexico is known as the ‘dead zone.’ The funds will be used to develop a statewide nutrient reduction strategy for Louisiana which adopts strategic elements identified in action plans of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force.
Hypoxia means low oxygen and is primarily a problem in coastal waters. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is an area of hypoxic waters at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 6,000 to 7,000 square miles. The zone occurs between the inner and mid-continental shelf in the northern Gulf of Mexico, beginning at the Mississippi River delta and extending westward to the upper Texas coast. The dead zone is caused by nutrient enrichment from the Mississippi River, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous.
Because of the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the Louisiana Legislature restructured the state's Wetland Conservation and Restoration Authority to form the CPRA. The CPRA is the single state entity with authority to articulate a clear statement of priorities and to focus development and implementation efforts to achieve comprehensive coastal protection for Louisiana.