EPA Provides Additional Funding to Help Reduce Excess Nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico Watershed
WASHINGTON (June 22, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is providing an additional $840 thousand to the 12 state members of the Hypoxia Task Force (HTF), expanding the $1.2 million that the agency already announced in August 2019. EPA’s more than $2 million in funding is helping HTF states implement plans that accelerate progress on reducing excess nutrients and improving water quality in the Mississippi River/Atchafalaya River Basin.
“By providing this new round of funding, EPA is further empowering our state partners to build on their ongoing efforts to update nutrient management plans, develop water quality trading programs and demonstrate best practices in high-priority watersheds,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Recognizing and supporting efforts that are developed through state leadership is a key component of the Trump Administration’s multi-pronged approach to reducing excess nutrients in our nation’s waters.”
Excess nutrients that make their way into our nation’s surface waters can contribute to algae blooms, hypoxic zones and other water quality concerns. HTF provides direction and support for federal and state initiatives to improve water quality in local waterways and in the Gulf of Mexico. Today’s funding announcement supports state strategies, which the HTF has recognized as a cornerstone for reducing nutrient loads to the Gulf and throughout the basin.
“As the co-chair of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force, I’m fortunate to work alongside 12 other state leaders, the EPA and other federal agencies, to guide the implementation of water quality and soil health practices that will help reduce the size, severity and duration of the hypoxia zone in the Gulf,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “As states continue implementing their nutrient reduction plans, they need additional funding to build upon the successful water quality projects underway. I am very grateful that the EPA is doubling-down on its water quality investment in the HTF states. In Iowa, we are adding practices at the fastest pace in our state’s history. We’re continuously looking for ways to scale up outreach, design, engineering and construction to put even more projects on the ground, and find new ways to measure our success.”
This effort continues the Trump Administration’s ongoing focus on reducing excess nutrients in the nation’s waters through enhanced federal and state coordination, stakeholder engagement and promoting market-based and other collaborative approaches. In 2020, EPA’s actions have included co-hosting a public meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force in Washington, D.C.; awarding more than $1.8 million in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grants to five organizations that will use market-based approaches to enhance nonpoint source excess nutrient reduction efforts in the Great Lakes basin; and issuing new, draft ambient water quality criteria recommendations for nutrients in lakes and reservoirs—the first update in almost 20 years.
For more information on EPA’s efforts to support the Hypoxia Task Force, visit https://www.epa.gov/ms-htf.
Recent actions by EPA and its federal partners to facilitate local, regional and national efforts to reduce excess nutrients in our nation’s waters continue several years of collaborative progress, including:
December 2018 – EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a letter to state co-regulators encouraging a reinvigoration of state, tribal and federal efforts to reduce excess nutrients in waterways, with a focus on market-based and other collaborative approaches.
February 2019 – EPA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Water Research Foundation to develop affordable technologies to recycle nutrients from livestock manure and also issued a new water quality trading policy memorandum intended to promote nutrient reductions and water quality improvements at a lower cost using market-based mechanisms.
May 2019 – EPA issued new recommendations for water quality criteria and swimming advisory values for two cyanotoxins. EPA also published infographics for state and stakeholder use to help inform the public of what harmful algal blooms may look like and how to prevent exposure to humans and pets.
July 2019 – EPA released the Cyanobacteria Assessment Network (CyAN) mobile app, which uses satellite data to alert users that a harmful algal bloom could be forming based on specific changes in the color of the water in more than 2,000 of the largest lakes and reservoirs across the United States.
August 2019 – EPA announced awarding more than $7.5 million in Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements to fund projects that improve water quality, habitat and environmental education in the Gulf of Mexico watershed. Additionally, EPA and four federal partners also announced the winners of the Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge—a technology-accelerating water quality challenge that is focused on nutrient management.
August 2019 – EPA and USDA hosted the National Nutrient Finance Forum, which represented the capstone to a summer-long outreach and engagement effort that was met with great interest across public and private sector stakeholders.