Water pollution: dawn of the “dead zones”

GULF OF MEXICO — It’s thousands of square miles wide, virtually devoid of oxygen and it has been blamed for an increase in shark attacks: the Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” is getting bigger and forcing marine life — including sharks — into shore. The zone has been caused by a flood of nutrients, such as agricultural fertilizers, which boost algae production in the sea. These growths consume huge amounts of oxygen, creating a “marine desert.” Similar “Dead Zones” are being discovered across the world, and a major United Nations report in 2003 found that the number had doubled each decade since the 1960s.

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source: cnn.com

1 reply
  1. Peter Maier says:

    While farmers are getting blamed for their pollution (CAFO’s and agricultural runoff), causing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, cities still are allowed to dump the same pollution (nutrients) in our open waters, since EPA still allows cities to use open waters as urinals, in spite of the fact that the goal of the Clean water Act was to eliminate (100% treatment) all water pollution by 1985.

    The reason? Simple, but also very embarrassing!
    EPA, like the rest of the world, used an essential pollution test incorrect and the pollution (now called nutrients) caused by nitrogenous (urine and protein) waste is ignored, while nitrogenous (urine and proteins) waste like fecal waste exerts an oxygen demand, but in all its forms is a nutrient (fertilizer) for algae and aquatic plants.

    In 1984 EPA acknowledge the problems with this test, but in stead of correcting this test (so we finally would be able to evaluate the true performance of such facilities and determine what their effluent waste loading on open waters would be), EPA allowed an alternative test and officially lowered the goal of the CWA from 100% treatment to a measly 35% treatment, without even informing Congress, as apparently the media also did not understand what was going on.

    But who cares, this is a technical issue and for that you have to trust the experts, who clearly in this case prefer the status quo. If you like to know more you can visit my website http://www.petermaier.net and in the Technical PDF section read a description of the BOD test and the consequences if you apply the test as still is applied.

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