Implementing the Task Force's Action Plan and Goals
To accomplish the mission of reducing nutrients in the Mississippi River Basin and hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico, the Task Force first set a course for making progress by developing actions plans and setting goals. The Task Force was then able to begin taking action to reduce hypoxia and improve water quality, using the action plans and goals as a guide to provide an opportunity to assess progress. Learn more in the sections below.
Planning a Course for Addressing Hypoxia and Water Quality
The Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan is the Task Force’s strategy for addressing hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. This course set goals and required opportunities for assessing progress. A quick overview of the different action plans and goals is provided in the subsections below and more detailed information is available on the Task Force's Action Plans and Goal Framework Webpage.
Once the goals were set to reduce hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin, the Task Force began to act on meeting their goals through a variety of mechanisms including supporting state efforts and strategies to reduce nutrients, forming partnerships with key stakeholders, and providing federal support, among others. States are also working independently to reduce nutrients in their states. Learn more below.
State Nutrient Reduction Strategies
The first action of the 2008 Action Plan, calling for the development of state nutrient reduction strategies, has been completed. States are currently working to implement and adapt their strategies to further reduce nutrient losses to surface waters.
Task Force Partnership with Land Grant Universities
The Task Force and the 12 member state Land Grant Universities (LGU) formed a Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement to support state-level strategies and actions to curb nutrient loading and Gulf hypoxia. The LGUs have organized through the Southern Extension and Research Activities committee number 46 (SERA-46), a formal USDA and LGU committee designed to promote multi-state research and extension activities.
Federal agencies provide funding through a variety of mechanisms to support states in taking action. For example, EPA provided $1.2 million in grants to Task Force states in 2019 to support implementation of state nutrient reduction strategies. In 2022, EPA announced $60 million in funding to support further implementation of the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. USDA NRCS provides financial support through many of their programs, such as the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative, to help landowners sustain America's natural resources through voluntary conservation, improve water quality, restore wetlands, and enhance wildlife habitat while ensuring economic viability of agricultural lands. Learn more about other federal support in the Reports to Congress.
The Task Force and its member federal and state agencies and the tribes have made progress through a variety of actions and programs that achieve direct reductions in nutrient pollution throughout the MARB. Learn more about these Success Stories.
Measuring and Tracking Progress
The Task Force is using a variety of metrics to measure and track progress as they implement the goals of the 2008 Action Plan and 2015 New Goal Framework. To learn more about how the Task Force is tracking its progress toward these goals, see Tracking Outcomes and Metrics to Measure Progress. On this page you will find a variety of data and reports to further explore progress.
Additionally, Action Item 7 of the 2008 Action Plan requires that the Task Force "track interim progress on the actions to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus by producing an annual report on federal and state program nutrient reduction activities and results." The first Annual Report was completed for FY 2009 and featured quantitative indicators to track water quality, conservation practices, and other trends, as well as success stories highlighting achievements of state and federal agency members of the Task Force and partner organizations. The Task Force now publishes the biennial Reports to Congress as their main reporting mechanism. The Report to Congress details some of the numerous activities that Task Force members are taking to reduce nutrients. Some states have individual websites with additional information. Please refer to the state nutrient reduction strategies for links to further explore state information.