University of Illinois Extension receives grant to reduce nutrient loss in waterways

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

The University of Illinois Extension has received a $1.5 million grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to aid efforts in reducing nutrient loss in Illinois’ waterways.

The grant will be used to hire two watershed coordinators to work directly with farmers, landowners and other stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss in two priority watersheds.

They will collaborate with other organizations and agencies working on water quality.

Funding will also be used to develop an agricultural water quality science team composed of faculty and staff from the University’s College of ACES.

“Extension will provide technical support and serve as a campus resource to help explore new approaches for protecting water quality,” said George Czapar, associate dean and director for the Office of Extension and Outreach, in an email.

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy is a collaborative effort to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loss. The two coordinators will be helping implement practices from the strategy, which is set out by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

“When we did the original science assessment to support the strategy, we considered both the economic impact on agriculture, as well as the environmental benefits,” Czapar said. “It is important to give farmers a range of management practices to consider.”

He said reducing nutrient loss is important because excess nutrients can cause algal blooms, or an increase in algae in water, that affect aquatic life both locally and downstream.

“Although factors such as physical habitat, light availability, and hydrology are part of a complex relationship affecting biotic responses in rivers and streams, reducing loss plays an important role in improving water quality,” he said.

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