Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, convened a hearing to discuss the causes and impacts of nutrient pollution in the United States and various approaches toward mitigating its effects. Nutrient pollution, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus, has negatively affected more than half of the water bodies in the United States, causing harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, declines in fish and wildlife and drinking water contamination. Nationally, nutrient pollution is a particular problem in the Great Lakes and in coastal estuaries, especially the Chesapeake Bay, the waters of Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico.
“Dead zones with little or no oxygen caused by nutrient pollution are threatening America’s waters and lakes, as well as the jobs and regional economies nationwide that depend on these great water bodies,” said Senator Cardin. “Without sufficient oxygen levels, plants and marine life suffocate, leaving far fewer fish and shellfish for our nation’s commercial and recreational fishermen. De-oxygenated water also feeds vast and dangerous algal blooms, making water unsuitable for both industry and recreation.
“Despite the protections of the Clean Water Act, the problem nationwide continues to grow. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, this year’s dead zone was 6,765 square miles, larger than the size of New Jersey. In the Chesapeake Bay, this year’s dead zone covered over one third of the Bay. The Clean Water Act has helped tremendously with addressing pollution discharges from point sources, such as factories. From the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and from Long Island Sound to San Francisco Bay, we must address the pollution in the America’s waters by dealing with all the pollution in any given region through comprehensive efforts and a strong role for federal agencies.”