Federal Water Tap, July 30: Small Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico

The drought in the Midwest has destroyed crops and herds, but it has also led to one of the smallest “dead zones”—low-oxygen areas where marine life struggles to survive—ever recorded in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The lead scientist for the study said the data confirm a positive relationship between the size of the dead zone and the amount of freshwater and nutrients carried by the Mississippi River. Annual measurements date to 1985. The dead zone this year is the fourth-smallest.

Solar Zones
The federal government designated 17 parcels of public land in six Western states as priority areas for utility-scale solar power development. The comprehensive environmental review drew significant attention—some 221,500 comments were received, between the draft review and a supplement.

Earlier this year, Circle of Blue explored how residents of Colorado’s San Luis Valley—where four solar zones have been placed—felt about the process.

A Man, A Plan, A Tunnel, California
A pair of tunnels will divert water around California’s contested Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and deliver it to water users in the state’s southern half, according to a proposal offered by state and federal officials. The project, which still must go through the environmental review process, is estimated to cost US$14 billion.

Sewer/Stormwater Hearing
Local government officials and utility leaders asked a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee to invest in water projects and to provide flexibility for communities dealing with water-quality regulations.

Rural Water
Changes to its funding process will help poor communities along the U.S.-Mexico border receive more federal grant money for water projects, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a hearing on July 31 to discuss a bill authorizing federal funding for rural water projects.

Climate Change Hearing
On August 1, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing to discuss the latest climate science and how communities are planning to adapt.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

1 reply
  1. Peter Maier says:

    First some basics that seems to have been forgotten.

    Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and reactive nitrogen are the basic elements that make up organic life and how this will grow at locations will establish a certain balance, which easily can be disturbed when one of these elements is removed or added. Farmers know that in order to grow more food, one need fertilizer, mostly reactive nitrogen, as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (water) are already plenty full available.
    This fact, the origin of life, does not appear too difficult to understand, so why do everybody still discusses only phenomena (like global warming and uncontrollable wildfires (due to green rain), while the simple fact is that all these phenomena are related to overall increased presence of reactive nitrogen in our biosphere, mostly due to human activities. First due to the burning of fossil fuels and secondly, during the past decades, due to the enormous increased use of synthesized fertilizer. If we don’t take this serious, soon the limiting elements will be hydrogen and oxygen (water) and then humans and all organic life will be in real trouble.

    Now related to the shrinking dead zone in the Gulf: less ‘green rain’ (rain with reactive nitrogen), less fertilizer, less alga, hence smaller dead zones.

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