4 Solutions to Dead Zones


Dead zones in the oceans and seas, which are referred to as “hypoxia,” are caused because there are low oxygen levels in the water. This creates a hardship for sea life to survive. One of the largest dead zones in the world today is in the Gulf of Mexico, sitting off of the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

There are ways that we all can provide solutions to dead zones so they are not as large or prevalent.

1. Prevent Agricultural Runoff

Many farms use nitrates and phosphorus to grow crops. These nutrients eventually find their way into water systems, which eventually makes its way out to a larger body of water. This limits the available oxygen and creates the potential for an expanding dead zone. By limiting fertilizers with these components, fewer runoff issues may occur.

2. Recycle Nutrients

Urban homes can reduce runoff issues that contribute to dead zones by starting their own compost pile. They can leave grass clippings on a lawn so that nutrients can be recycled. As an added benefit, this can often reduce the amount of waste that must enter the garbage cycle.

3. Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies will go down the train. They’ll enter the wastewater system. Not every chemical is removed, even when treated, which means the waters that come back may still have those cleaning supplies present. This also contributes to dead zones. By using non-toxic alternatives and never dumping chemicals down the drain, this will help to take care of the environment more.

4. Utilize No Till Farming Methods

No till farming can conserve up to 2 inches of water in cropland soil, which reduces the need for irrigation and the runoff that is produced from those efforts. It also helps to conserve the top soil so that the nitrogen and phosphorus do not enter the marine life arena.

Nitrogen and phosphorus do a great job of killing plankton. Their death consumes oxygen, as does the algae blooms that form with the added nutrients in the water. If we can control this nutrient runoff from our agricultural efforts and do our own part to control urban runoff, then the formation of dead zones can be reduced. In return, we can restore life to our waters.