Scientists say heavy spring rains in the Midwest have caused a huge runoff of water containing fertilizer and pesticides.  Those chemicals flowing down the Mississippi River are going to cause a possible record-setting “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

The dead zone is caused when nitrogen-based fertilizer washes off the ground in the corn belt and ends up in the gulf. 

“We’re expecting a bigger flush of nutrients from those farms than ever before,” says Dr. Larry McKinney at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  “So, the dead zone is predicted to be somewhere between seven thousand and eight thousand square miles.  That’s about the size of the state of New Jersey, so it’s really large.”

It could affect the Texas Gulf Coast, from Galveston to Matagorda.

“That affects tourism and fisheries, for shrimp and recreational fishing, so the economy impact of this thing could be in the millions, or even billions, of dollars.”