Task Force History and Reassessment
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The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force was established in the fall of 1997 to understand the causes and effects of eutrophication in the Gulf of Mexico; coordinate activities to reduce the size, severity, and duration; and ameliorate the effects of hypoxia. Activities include coordinating and supporting nutrient management activities from all sources, restoring habitats to trap and assimilate nutrients, and supporting other hypoxia related activities in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico watersheds.
In 2001, the Task Force released the 2001 Action Plan (PDF, 36 pp, 6.4MB), a national strategy to reduce Gulf hypoxia. Most recently, the Task Force embarked on a 4-year reassessment of the science surrounding Gulf hypoxia since the release the 2001 Action Plan to produce a revised Action Plan.
The 2001 Action Plan has since been revised and expanded, as you can see in the 2008 Action Plan. The 2008 Action Plan is currently being implemented by the members states and agencies of the Task Force.
In May of 1998, the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force was issued a charter, setting forth its mission, roles and responsibilities, and members.
2001 Action Plan & Reassessment
Action Item 11
By December 2005 and every five years thereafter, the Task Force will assess the nutrient load reductions achieved and the response of the hypoxic zone, water quality throughout the Basin, and economic and social effects. Based on this assessment, the Task Force will determine appropriate actions to continue to implement this strategy or, if necessary, revise the strategy.
Action item 11 of the 2001 Action Plan (PDF, 36 pp, 6.4MB) called for an assessment of progress in achieving the three goals of the Action Plan (Coastal, Within Basin, and Quality of Life) and decisions on a future course of action. The call for a reassessment resulted in several products including a proposal and timeline for the process, several symposia, teams to compile data, a Science Advisory Panel and background documents.
Proposal for Reassessment Process
As part of the reassessment, four symposia and one workshop were conducted. The purpose was to assess the current state of the science of hypoxia. Detailed information about the symposia and workshop is provided below.
The Task Force also created two teams, the Management Action Reassessment Team (MART) and the Science Reassessment Team (SRT), to undertake the initial compiling and updating of the data for the reassessment. Each team summarized available data, identified gaps and limitations in existing information and activities, and proposed additional activities and assessments to close the gaps.
Science Advisory Board
In 2001 EPA requested that a Science Advisory Board (SAB) conduct an evaluation of the complex scientific and technical issues affecting the causes, location, magnitude, and duration of the hypoxic zone in the Northern Gulf of Mexico, as well as the priority and feasibility of management and control options in the Mississippi River Basin and Gulf to reduce it. The SAB Hypoxia Panel reviewed background reports and research efforts (including research discussed through the four science symposia) and sought public comments on the issue. The result of these efforts was the 2007 Science Advisory Board Report on Gulf Hypoxia.
As part of the Hypoxia Science Advisory Board (SAB) Panel’s review, several key background materials are available for review by the panelists as well as the interested public.