Several environmental groups are suing the government to curb pollution of the Mississippi River with fertilizers and other contaminants blamed with creating a “dead zone” the size of Massachusetts in the Gulf of Mexico.
In separate federal lawsuits filed Tuesday, the groups asked judges to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set base guidelines for state water quality standards and for wastewater treatment, both aimed at reducing pollution in the Mississippi River Basin.
The basin stretches from the Rocky Mountains in the west all the way to New York state in the east. It funnels water south through the agricultural heartland and industrial states to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico.
Along the way, it gathers nitrogen that stimulates excessive algae growth in the dead zone from rainfall, runoff from farms and livestock production and wastewater treatment plants.
“The Mississippi River and the entire Gulf of Mexico has long been treated as the nation’s sewer,” Matt Rota, director of science and water policy for the Gulf Restoration Network told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.