Is fertilizer runoff in central US causing Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’?

Louisiana

Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ was projected to be the second-largest on record this summer. (Photo: NASA)

DES MOINES, Iowa. (LSU Manship School News Service/The Advertiser) — Tom Rendon came here to a Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign event and handed out stickers that said, “Water is Life.”

Rendon has been a member of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement for over 20 years. The group works on immigration, trade and environmental issues including pollution from large farms that the group believes contaminates the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. 

For Rendon, the hypoxic waters, or “dead zone” problem at the mouth of the Mississippi, is caused mostly by corporate farming and runoff of nitrate fertilizer in Iowa and other states. His hope is that Sanders, the Vermont independent, will have the vision as president to address complex agricultural and environmental problems.

Six months ago, the dead zone was about the size of Massachusetts. Its waters have little or no oxygen and it is killing fish and other organisms, endangering the livelihoods of those who depend on the Gulf’s seafood.

Adam Mason, state policy director for the Iowa citizens group, said it worked with a lot of communities to stop construction of “factory farms” and combat the pollution he says they produce. According to Mason, Iowa is No. 1 in U.S. hog production with more than 26 million hogs generating over 22 billion gallons of liquid manure that’s dumped untreated onto Iowa farm fields and can runoff into waterways. 

Read the rest of the story in The Advertiser.

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