The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy guides state efforts to improve water quality at home and downstream by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus levels in our lakes, streams, and rivers. The strategy lays out a comprehensive suite of best management practices for reducing nutrient loads from wastewater treatment plants and urban and agricultural runoff. Recommended activities target the state’s most critical watersheds and are based on the latest science and best-available technology. It also calls for more collaboration between state and federal agencies, cities, non-profits, and technical experts on issues such as water quality monitoring, funding, and outreach.
The strategy was developed by a policy working group led by the Illinois Water Resource Center-Illinois Indiana Sea Grant, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Group members included representatives from state and federal agencies, agriculture, and non-profit organizations as well as scientists and wastewater treatment professionals.
Nutrient pollution is a major threat to water quality. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus carried in runoff from city streets and farm fields or flowing out of wastewater treatment plants can fuel algae blooms that decrease oxygen needed by aquatic plants and animals. In the Gulf of Mexico, nutrients washed down by the Mississippi River have created a "dead zone" that stretches for thousands of square miles. At home, nutrient pollution can also lower property values, hinder recreation, and degrade drinking water quality.
To help protect local streams and the Gulf, Illinois and 11 other states in the Mississippi River basin have pledged to develop strategies to reduce the nutrient loads leaving their borders. These strategies are part of a national plan developed by the Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force.
Key Strategy Components
- Extends ongoing regulatory and voluntary efforts.
- Identifies priority watersheds for nutrient reduction efforts.
- Establishes the Nutrient Monitoring Council to coordinate water quality monitoring efforts by government agencies, universities, non-profits, and industry.
- Establishes the Nutrient Science Advisory Committee, a select committee of scientists that will propose statewide or watershed-wide appropriate numeric water quality standards to the Policy Working Group.
- Forms the Agricultural Water Quality Partnership Forum to oversee outreach and education efforts.
- Establishes the Urban Stormwater Working Group to coordinate and improve stormwater programs and education.
- Lays out strategies for improving collaboration among government, non-profits, and industry.
- Defines a process for regular review and revision.