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On November 25, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released for public comment the long awaited “Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy”. With its release, Illinois joins nine other states in the Mississippi River basin that are developing nutrient reduction loss strategies in an effort to reduce the size of the hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico.

This year, the hypoxic area was the size of the state of Connecticut or 5052 square miles. Hypoxia is a condition where the water has very low oxygen levels, and this is detrimental to marine life and the Gulf coast fishing industries.

The strategy “lays out a comprehensive suite of best management practices for reducing 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 technologies.”

The strategy was developed by a policy working group led by the Illinois Water Resources Center, 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. Three members of this working group were from the University of Illinois, plus agricultural representatives from the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers, the Illinois Council of Best Management Practices, and the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association.

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy outlines cost effective strategies that meet community and industry needs while reducing the negative impacts of nutrient loss on the environment, industry, and public health. You can view the document at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency website.