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nutrient pollution

World Hypoxic and Eutrophic Coastal Areas

This map identifies 415 eutrophic and hypoxic coastal systems worldwide. Of these, 169 are documented hypoxic areas, 233 are areas of concern and 13 are systems in recovery.

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Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations

A Product of the National Network on Water Quality Trading

This report aims to provide a reference on common elements and decisions inherent in water quality trading (WQT) program design, especially point-nonpoint WQT programs and the range of available options.

It is intended to help establish WQT programs, provide greater transparency about...

Overcoming Barriers to USDA’s New Conservation Program

For more than 30 years, the USDA has worked to reduce water pollution by offering farmers throughout the nation financial and technical help to put conservation measures in place. While these efforts have successfully addressed environmental problems at the individual farm level—such as soil erosion—agriculture remains a key source of water pollution.

However, it’s only a small portion of farms that generate the majority of agriculture’s contribution to U.S. water pollution. New research shows that targeting conservation funds to these farms with the most potential to reduce pollution could be up to 12 times more cost effective than the usual practice of disbursing funds widely. And encouragingly, a new USDA program aims to capitalize on a similar targeted approach.

Advancing voluntary and market-based solutions for improving water quality in a manner that maximizes economic efficiency and maintains environmental integrity.

Can Nutrient Trading Shrink the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone?

The Gulf of Mexico has the largest dead zone in the United States and the second-largest in the world. Dead zones form when excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous wash into waterways and spur algal blooms, depleting the water of oxygen and killing fish, shrimp, and other marine life. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone can range between an astounding 3,000 and 8,000 square miles. At its largest, it’s about the size of Massachusetts.

Reducing this growing dead zone problem is a huge scientific, technical, economic, and political challenge. It’s a conundrum that agricultural and environmental experts from across the United States will deliberate this week at the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.

One new approach they’ll discuss is voluntary nutrient trading. According to a new study conducted by WRI staff for the EPA, this strategy could be used in the Mississippi River Basin to cost-effectively reduce nitrogen and phosphorous pollution and shrink the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.

  • LEARN MORE: Download the full study on the economic feasibility of nutrient trading in the Mississippi River Basin.

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