The White River is not an independent river.

Fed by many streams, the White River carries runoff from central Indiana downstream, where the water eventually makes its way to the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River watershed is the fourth largest drainage system on the planet, which flows into one concentrated area – the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico is experiencing a global environmental issue known as dead zones, where aquatic regions become so oxygen-deprived that they can no longer support marine life. Polluted runoff – largely in the form of nitrogen and phosphorus – from agricultural, industrial, and urban areas creates hypoxia, or dead zones. The White River watershed has no shortage of these areas, which drastically reduce the watershed’s ability to filter pollutants and contributes to these hypoxic conditions.

There has been an increasing effort to solve this problem, however, both locally and nationally. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other Federal and State Agencies to address the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Find out more about the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force and the Indiana State Nutrient Reduction Strategy. While hypoxic conditions still persist each year, these are steps in the right direction.  

The majority of streams and sub-watersheds that make up the White River watershed are listed as impaired, largely due to the expansion of urban areas and agriculture. This not only causes local issues such as habitat loss and polluted land and water, but also leads to more widespread problems like the dead zones experienced in the Gulf of Mexico