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Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force

Implementing the HTF 2008 Action Plan

Hypoxia Task Force Partnership with Land Grant Universities

The Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) and the 12 HTF state Land Grant Universities (LGU) formed a Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement to support state-level strategies and actions to curb nutrient loading and Gulf hypoxia. These Land Grant Universities have organized through the SERA-46 committeeExit. In 2015, the Hypoxia Task Force and SERA-46 released their Priorities for Collaborative WorkThe land grant universities involved in this partnership host an electronic newsletter and other information at the following website: Mississippi River Basin Conservation Network ExitThe partnership announcement was released in 2014.

HTF Goals

In 2015, the HTF announced that it would retain the original goal of reducing the areal extent of the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone to less than 5,000 km2 and extend the time of attainment from 2015 to 2035. The HTF also for the first time agreed on an interim target of a 20 percent nutrient load reduction by the year 2025 as a milestone toward reducing the hypoxic zone to less than 5,000 km2 by the year 2035. For more details, read the 2015 Press Release or download the full HTF Goal Framework. To learn more about how the HTF is tracking its progress toward these goals, see Tracking Outcomes and Metrics to Measure Progress.

State Nutrient Reduction Strategies

Action 1 of the 2008 Action Plan, calling for state nutrient reduction strategies, has been completed.

2013 Reassessment

Action 11 of the 2008 Action Plan calls for a reassessment, every five years, of the Task Force approach to addressing excess nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin, and to reduce the size of the Gulf hypoxic zone. The 2013 Reassessment is the Task Force’s response to the Action 11 commitment. It provides a snapshot of progress to date in implementing the 2008 Action Plan: each Task Force state has developed a nutrient reduction strategy; USDA continues to provide strong assistance for conservation practices; science and monitoring continue to improve; and the goal for reducing the Gulf hypoxic zone remains reasonable. The Reassessment recommends that the Task Force work to accelerate implementation of nutrient reduction activities and identify ways to measure progress at a variety of scales.

2008 Action Plan

The 2008 Action Plan describes a national strategy to reduce, mitigate, and control hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. The plan was released on June 16th, 2008. You may request a copy or download the Action Plan as a PDF file.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force released the 2008 Action Plan as a product of a four-year reassessment that was called for in the 2001 Action Plan. The revised Plan reflects emerging science including EPA's Science Advisory Board report.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force held six public meetings throughout the Mississippi River Basin to inform the public of the progress of the reassessment of the Action Plan. The draft Action Plan received over 750 public comments.

Eleven key actions in the 2008 Action Plan outline critical needs to complete and implement nitrogen and phosphorus reduction strategies, promote effective conservation practices and management practices, track progress, reduce existing scientific uncertainties, and promote effective communications to increase awareness of Gulf hypoxia.

Annual Reports

Action Item 7 of the 2008 Action Plan requires that the Task Force "track interim progress on the actions to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus by producing an annual report on federal and state program nutrient reduction activities and results." The first Annual Report was completed for FY 2009 and featured quantitative indicators to track water quality, conservation practices, and other trends, as well as success stories highlighting achievements of state and federal agency members of the Task Force and partner organizations.

From 2009 to 2011, the HTF Annual Reports were designed to track interim progress on the actions taken to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in the Mississippi/Atchafalaya Basin (MARB). These reports document federal and state program nutrient reduction activities and the results of these activities. This consistent documentation helped the Task Force to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and management efforts and their combined effects on reducing the hypoxic zone and the in-basin effects of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The first Annual Report was released in 2009.

Request Copies of the 2008 Action Plan

For copies of the 2008 Action Plan, contact NSCEP:

Phone: 1-800-490-9198


When requesting copies, be sure to provide the title and publication number:

Publication #: 842K09001

Title: Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008


When citing the 2008 Action Plan, use the following text:

Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force. 2008. Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008 for Reducing, Mitigating, and Controlling Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico and Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin. Washington, DC.

Implementation of the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008 (2008 Action Plan) continues. Read more in the following sections to learn how. 


There are a growing number of organizations, companies, and foundations who are also doing their part to move forward on Gulf hypoxia. The Task Force promotes these efforts and encourages continued partnership building with these stakeholders.

Success Stories

Any environmental issue that covers the immense size and scope of the MARB and hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is bound to be laden with obstacles. Despite limited resources to address an ever-growing problem, the Task Force and its member federal and state agencies and the tribes have made progress through actions and programs that achieve direct reductions in nutrient pollution throughout the MARB. 

Learn more about these successful projects