Reducing Nutrient Inputs to Coastal Ecosystems
Nutrients are essential elements to any living organism. A proper balance of nutrients gives a healthy state of being. But improper nutrient balances, either too much, not enough nutrients, or the wrong combinations, can cause unhealthy states of being for all living organisms. In order to better understand the problem of nutrient reduction and other environmental issues, one must first understand the simple, yet complex role of nutrients in a healthy planet.
Historically, the coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico have attracted millions of people to enjoy the bounty of plant and animal life that depend on the right balances of fresh water and salt water in estuaries. The Gulf of Mexico is facing a serious challenge with excess nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus from the farming heartland, that can cause sometimes dangerously low levels of oxygen, or hypoxic conditions. Over 40% of the country drains into the Gulf of Mexico and the efforts to reduce nutrients will require humans to cooperate at levels never seen before.
The Gulf of Mexico Alliance Environmental Education Network (GOMAEEN) features tools that communicate the science of nutrient inputs on coastal watersheds to life-long learners from "K to Gray" (kindergarten and up). The digital library contains presentations, project ideas, and graphics that illustrate how wastewater, agricultural runoff, and other nutrient sources enter and affect coastal waters.
Coordinator for the Nutrient Reduction Team
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality