Significant investments and measurable progress in reducing nutrient loss
information provided by the Illinois Department of Agriculture
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (November 20, 2019) – The Directors of the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of the state’s second Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) biennial report. This document describes the continued progress being made in Illinois to reduce nutrient losses from multiple sources to improve water quality not only in Illinois waterways, but also in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.
“The next step is transitioning more farmers from awareness of nutrient loss practices to application,” said John Sullivan, Department of Agriculture Director.
Reductions are being realized as a direct result of investments by wastewater treatment facilities to meet more stringent nutrient permit limits. Illinois officials expect to see continued progress in meeting the long-term goal of 45% reduction in nutrients as additional planned wastewater treatment facility upgrades occur.
The Illinois NLRS was first released in 2015. The Strategy’s goal is to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in Illinois waterways by 45%. Interim goals include reducing the amount of phosphorus by 25% and nitrogen by 15% by 2025. Implementation efforts are led by Strategy partners in the Policy Working Group and other sector committees, guided by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Illinois EPA, with assistance provided by the University of Illinois Extension. The Illinois NLRS is part of a broader effort being implemented by states in the Mississippi River Basin to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Gulf of Mexico, which causes a “dead zone” of oxygen-depleted water.
During the reporting period of 2017-2018, the agriculture sector invested more than $59 million in nutrient loss reduction for research, outreach, implementation, and monitoring. These contributions have come from Agriculture Water Quality Partnership Forum members and other agriculture related organizations that are working toward reaching the goals set forth in the Illinois NLRS. During that same period, over 84,000 people attended field days, conferences, or workshops to learn about practices that can be implemented to reduce nutrient loss from farm fields.
The Full Biennial Report is available online. This Biennial Report will be updated again in 2021. The agencies and organizations leading this effort will continue to collaborate and invest in programs that meet the goals of the Illinois NLRS.