Fertilizer Causes Largest Ever Dead Zone

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deadzone In: Fertilizer Causes Largest Ever Dead Zone | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

Growing our food supply in the Mississippi basin is killing life in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is ironic that supplying food to sustain life is killing it down the river.  Most of this fertilizer is used to grow corn and soybeans for food to produce meat.  We will eventually reduce our meat intake because the current system is not sustainable.  We do not have enough water or arable land to continue our current meat intake with increasing populations.

EcoWatch has published the following article on August 1, 2017.  More information can be found in “The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life:  once taken, it cannot be brought back-


Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone Could be Largest Ever, Thanks to the Meat Industry

Scientists predict that so much pollution is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico this year that it is creating a larger-than-ever “dead zone” in which low to no oxygen can suffocate or kill fish and other marine life.

The Guardian reported that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is expected to announce this week the largest recorded hypoxic zone in the gulf, an oxygen-depleted swath that’s even larger than the New Jersey-sized, 8,185 square-mile dead zone originally predicted for July.

And in a new analysis from environmental group Mighty, the meat industry as well as the country’s appetite for meat is much to blame.

deadzone2 In: Fertilizer Causes Largest Ever Dead Zone | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
This Nitrogen-rich fertilizer is one of the main causes of the dead zone in the Gulf

When fertilizer and manure washes off soy and corn fields used to grow feed for livestock, it not only contaminates local drinking water supplies, it flows into larger water bodies and creates toxic algal blooms from the excessive nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen. When the algae dies and decomposes, it depletes the waters of oxygen and eventually leads to vast dead zones that is toxic to aquatic life.

“While fertilizer pollution starts in the Midwest, it flows down the Mississippi River until it finally dumps out into the Gulf of Mexico, which collapses into one of the world’s largest Dead Zones each year as a direct result,” the report states.

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“Approximately 1.15 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution flowed into the Gulf of Mexico in 2016 alone, which is around 170 percent more pollution than was dumped into the Gulf by the BP oil spill.”

deadzone3 In: Fertilizer Causes Largest Ever Dead Zone | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe RiverThis process shows how nitrogen sources (such as fertilizer use throughout the United States) affect the lives of aquatic creatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mighty is calling on Big Meat—particularly Tyson Foods, the largest meat company in the U.S.—to urge their grain producers such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland to take steps to reduce and prevent runoff pollution.


“This problem is worsening and worsening and regulation isn’t reducing the scope of this pollution,” Lucia von Reusner, campaign director at Mighty, told the Guardian. “These companies’ practices need to be far more sustainable. And a reduction in meat consumption is absolutely necessary to reduce the environmental burden.”

deadzone4 In: Fertilizer Causes Largest Ever Dead Zone | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
The shrimping industry and other forms of fishing, as well as many other facets of our economy, are being hurt from the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

1 Comment

  1. The past 7 years at the Gulf of Mexico’s All Hands Meeting, this has been a hot topic. There is even money available to find a solution.

    I know the solution starts with each person adopting their watershed. You have already seen tremendous political corruption in our government, so don’t leave it in their hands.

    Each and every person needs to adopt their watershed. Perhaps homeowner associations should adopt their watershed. Cities and States as well as nation need to do everything they can. So, first as a concerned citizen learn all that you can. Attend meetings of the various groups to learn about your watershed. The groups along the coast have large estuaries that are dependent on the water quality flowing to them, so their job is big when they attempt to reach the people at the top of the watershed.

    Each of us is responsible for what enters the watershed from our property and actions. Stormwater runoff is a big factor however, in Florida our karst system allows water to percolate into the ground, without grasses, particularly grassy marshes much of the of the water leaving us continues to carry nitrogen and phosphate as well as many other harmful chemicals to our aquifer, springs rivers and estuaries. As that water reaches the ocean we (humans) have created the dead zone.

    That does relate to opening up mining along the Santa Fe River. The scaring of the land in itself it a terrible site, but the stockpile of waste with no plan to neutralize it or take it to somewhere else in the world will remain a threat to the Santa Fe as well as the St Johns watershed.

    Limerock mining in our area was controlled now lets stand up for our watershed. Everyone coast to coast across Florida, including folks in Gainesville need:
    1. educate yourselfs.
    2. explain the issues and your support for our watershed by emailing, followed by a call, followed by a personal visit
    a. your neighbors
    b. each of your city council members
    c. each of your county commissioners
    d. each of the water management district board members
    e. your state representatives
    d. the governor
    e. the city or county administrators
    f. the commissioners in the county of concern
    g. write a letter to the editor
    h. write and call the TV stations
    i. show up at meetings, even if it’s just to line the streets with people and signs

    Also, think about alternative way to support the economy in the region as an alternative to one that is detrimental to the watershed.

    You may not do all of the above, but get started. It’s easier than you think, just make sure your supporting the facts, and good science for making the decision. Lies and misrepresentations can lead to confusion, if you don’t have an answer search for it. Look to the Environmentalists, Geologists, Hydrologists for studies. Learn about environmental law. Find supporters that will join you.

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