Illinois Strategy

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy provides the plan.


The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, NLRS, is a statewide collaborative effort working to reduce the amount of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, entering Illinois waterways. Illinois is one of 12 states that have developed nutrient strategies as members of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, also known as the Hypoxia Task Force. Illinois established its strategy in 2015. 

The Illinois NLRS is a science-based strategy that builds on existing programs to optimize nutrient loss reduction while promoting increased collaboration, research, and innovation in the private sector, academia, non-profits, wastewater agencies, and state and local governments. The strategy promotes the reduction of nutrients in a coordinated manner by recommending cost-effective, practical actions and best management practices. 

The strategy does not call for new regulations. Instead, it outlines approaches to meet community and industry needs while reducing the negative impacts of nutrient loss on the environment, industry, and public health. Implementation of strategy recommendations relies on the work of stakeholder partners across the state, including agriculture commodity groups and producers; wastewater treatment plants; stormwater managers; academia; environmental organizations; and federal, state, county, and municipal governments.  

The strategy is steered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois EPA, Illinois Department of Agriculture, IDOA, and University of Illinois Extension, and a multi-stakeholder Policy Working Group. In addition, other multistakeholder working groups address the implementation of the strategy and monitor progress toward strategy goals. 

Learn more about the NLRS working groups and partners

    Illinois' Goals


    The overall objective of the strategy is to improve water quality in Illinois and downstream to reduce the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. 

    • Long-term Objective: 45% reduction in total phosphorus and total nitrogen loads originating in Illinois
    • 2025 Interim Objective: 15% decrease in nitrate-nitrogen and a 25% decrease in total phosphorus. 





    How Illinois Extension helps

    An Illinois Extension team, funded by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and guided by representatives from the Illinois EPA and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, helps to spearhead the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force charges for Illinois. 

    Extension staff

    • Coordinate and facilitate Illinois’ strong Policy Working Group partnership and many sub-working groups that build, execute, evaluate, and update the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy for Illinois. 
    • Gather and organize partner tracking information (resources, outreach efforts, land and facilities, and water quality data)
    • Produce and publish a Biennial Report to showcase nitrogen and phosphorus load data, science updates, partner efforts, and benchmarking progress.
    • Coordinate and facilitate an annual NLRS conference or workshop
    • Catalyze, educate and facilitate watershed-based planning in priority watersheds
    • Communicate the NLRS research, progress, and adaptive management through public presentations and media outreach

    Explore the latest update to the Illinois strategy


    The 2023 NLRS Biennial Report provides updated water quality measures for 2021 and 2022, outlines practice implementation in the agriculture, point source, and urban stormwater sectors, and offers forward-looking recommendations. The NLRS partnership continues to engage with its partners and stakeholders in overcoming practice implementation barriers, exploring innovative nutrient loss reduction practices, supporting research endeavors, and raising awareness about the importance of water quality in Illinois and beyond. Find more about the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Biennial Reports on the Illinois EPA Website