Keeping the Stygian Waters at Bay

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Science  09 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5506, pp. 968-973
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5506.968

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URBANA, ILLINOIS-- If approved by Congress, an ambitious plan would seek to banish a recurring nightmare from the Gulf of Mexico: a seasonal dead zone that turns the sea floor into a graveyard. The gulf's woes can be attributed primarily to the 1.6 million metric tons of nitrogen, much of it from midwestern farm fields, that wash out of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers each year. Many experts believe that by altering farming practices to choke off nitrogen at its source, conditions in the gulf can be turned around before it's too late.