Nutrient Pollution Continues to Rise in Illinois

Date:

Share post:

CHAMPAIGN —The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency released its third biennial Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) 2021 Biennial Report on September 16th. Despite years of efforts on the part of dozens of state agencies and stakeholders, and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, the situation is getting worse. Since the 1980-1996 baseline period, nitrate and phosphorus levels in Illinois water have increased by 13% and 35% respectively. 

The NLRS report monitors the state’s progress towards reducing nutrient pollution entering our lakes and streams and reducing the size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. Excessive levels of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus can cause excessive algae growth, low levels of oxygen in water, endanger aquatic life, and contribute to unhealthy drinking water.

While modest increases in conservation activities by the agricultural sector were reported, it is clear that Illinois is struggling to get enough conservation farming practices on the ground to stem the flow of nutrients from the soil. Illinois needs a strategy that shows us how we will get the landscape changes and farming practices we need on the ground, not just the math for how many acres of each practice we need. 

The report also emphasized that climate change has increased levels of nitrate and phosphorus entering our water under our current farming systems. Climate scientists predict that this trend of more high intensity storms in the spring and fall will continue. A significant increase in conservation farming practices on the landscape is needed if we are to make any progress towards reaching our NLRS goal reductions.  

“Our major wastewater treatment districts have made significant improvements to their facilities to reduce the nitrogen and phosphorus leaving them; however, those gains are washed away by misapplied fertilizers and leaving the soil unprotected in agriculture,” said Prairie Rivers Network Agricultural Programs Specialist Catie Gregg. “Without the state setting specific annual or biennial goals and strategies about how they expect to meet them, we will never reduce fertilizer pollution.”

At Prairie Rivers Network (PRN), we protect water, heal land, and inspire change. Using the creative power of science, law, and collective action, we protect and restore our rivers, return healthy soils and diverse wildlife to our lands, and transform how we care for the earth and for each other. PRN is the Illinois affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related articles

Bourbonnais Motorcyclist Dead after crash Tuesday tossed man 50 feet from Bike  

BOURBONNAIS - A local man has died after his motorcycle crashed last night. According to reports it happened on Route...

Bradley Gas Station robbed at Gunpoint Wednesday  

BRADLEY - A local gas station was reportedly robbed at gunpoint early this morning. According to Bradley Police it happened...

Man dead after attempting to pass John Deere pulling grain on Route 45 

CHICAGO - A man is dead after allegedly attempted to pass a tractor in his vehicle on Route 45...

Student killed in homicide on campus at Purdue University, victim, suspect roommates  

WEST LAFAYETTE - Police have arrested a suspect after an early morning call reported a homicide at Purdue University. According...