Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2012
Publication Date: 7/1/2012
Citation: Kroger, R., Moore, M.T., Thornton, K.W., Farris, J.L., Prevost, J.D., Pierce, S.C. 2012. Tiered on-the-ground implementation projects for Gulf of Mexico water quality improvements. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 67(4):94A-99A. Interpretive Summary: Eutrophication and subsequent hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is a growing national concern. Numerous management practices have shown potential at reducing nutrient concentrations leaving production acreage. To combat eutrophication, cumulative nutrient reductions must be achieved through series of in-field, edge-of-field, and in-stream management practices within the entire Mississippi River basin. Dissemination of effective practices and sufficient water quality monitoring data are critical to document effectiveness. Acknowledgement of a time lag, perhaps decades, in water quality improvement must be incorporated into expectations of success.
Technical Abstract: Both the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin (USEPA 2008) and the GOMA Governors’ Action Plan II for Healthy and Resilient Coasts (GOMA 2009) call for the development and implementation of nutrient reduction strategies to reduce excess nutrient loads to the Gulf of Mexico. However, it is not just the Gulf of Mexico waters that are impacted by excess nutrients. The USEPA Wadeable Streams Assessment (2006) and the National Lakes Assessment (USEPA 2010) indicated almost one-third of the nation’s stream miles and 20% of the lakes contain high total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN) concentrations. Over 6,000 waterbodies in the U.S. are impaired by nutrients (USEPA 2011). The USEPA Science Advisory Board has called for a 45% reduction of both N and P loads from the Mississippi River Basin to achieve the goal of a 5,000 km2 hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico (USEPA 2007). The approach taken by several states, including Mississippi, involves reduction of excess nutrients to attain the designated uses of state waterbodies for cumulative benefits and nutrient reductions in the Gulf of Mexico.