EPA Requests Grant Proposals to Reduce Hypoxic Zone in Gulf of Mexico
EPA plans to award up to $4.2 million in targeted watershed grants to reduce the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. EPA is soliciting proposals that will use water-quality trading programs to reduce nutrient loads, particularly from the Ohio River, the Upper Mississippi River, or the Lower Mississippi River. These three sub-basins provide the most nutrients to the Gulf, contributing to the hypoxic zone, an oxygen-depleted area that cannot support aquatic life. Excess nutrients come from a wide range of sources, including runoff from developed land, atmospheric deposition, soil erosion, agricultural fertilizers, and sewage and industrial discharges.
"This is seed money to grow an innovative solution to nutrient pollution and cut the size of the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles.
Market-based approaches like water-quality trading that use innovative pollutant cap-and-trade programs can accelerate the restoration of the Gulf and help achieve major reductions in pollution at lower costs. Setting pollutant reduction targets and allowing sources to buy and sell credits to meet those targets can make it faster, easier, and cheaper to meet water-quality goals.
Grant proposals must be submitted by Sept. 9, 2008. State governors and tribal leaders nominate proposals for targeted watershed grants. A national panel evaluates and ranks submissions based on criteria outlined in the notice. Selection of the grantees will be announced this fall.
The Targeted Watersheds Grants program has awarded nearly $50 million to 61 organizations since 2003. For 2008, the focus is on supporting water quality trading to protect local water resources to reduce the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico.