The Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) Water Resources Team is extending a 2017 Gulf Star nutrient reduction project with funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These funds are to accelerate progress on reducing nutrients and improving water quality in 12 states that drain into Mississippi/Atchafalaya River watersheds. The states are members of the Hypoxia Task Force. The Task Force mission is to understand and address hypoxia (low oxygen waters) in the northern Gulf of Mexico, which is influenced by excess nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorus—in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya Rivers. This area of low oxygen is often referred to as the ‘dead zone.’

Cooperative efforts by the Louisiana Coastal Protection Restoration Authority (CPRA), the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and the EPA ensured that the project extends until 2021. The GOMA Team initiated the Gulf Star project to inform coastal restoration and nutrient management activities in Louisiana by monitoring water quality parameters, including nutrients, along a transect extending from Barataria Pass to offshore waters in 2018-2019. The Hypoxia Tasks Force states funding establishes a longer-term data set that helps fill a critical monitoring gap. It informs the nearshore to offshore environment, provides water quality baseline data, and supports nutrient uptake modeling to evaluate nutrient dynamics in response to a river diversion.

Planned, constructed river diversions rebuild, and sustain Louisiana’s coastal wetlands after decades of land loss. In turn, diversions have the value-added benefit of assimilating and removing nutrients that entered the Mississippi River system from Louisiana or upriver states. As such, diversions are an integral part of Louisiana’s Nutrient Management and Reduction Strategy, a multiagency effort to manage and reduce nutrients originating within the state’s waterways.

The Gulf Star Louisiana Inshore to Offshore Water Monitoring study has grown to include additional parameters, multiple agencies, multiple data uses, and multiple years.  Thank you GOMA and EPA!