The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a framework to reduce nutrients that move via surface water from Iowa into the Mississippi River Basin and down to the Gulf of Mexico. Excessive levels of these nutrients—nitrogen and phosphorus—contribute to hypoxic conditions in the Gulf. The Strategy was developed through a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Iowa State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This plan is designed to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point and non-point sources in a scientific, reasonable, and cost-effective way.
The Strategy was developed in response to recommendations provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its 2011 memo, “Working in Partnership with States to Address Phosphorus and Nitrogen Pollution through Use of a Framework for State Nutrient Reduction.” Ongoing action for nutrient load reductions is further supported by later EPA recommendations, “Renewed Call to Action to Reduce Nutrient Pollution and Support for Incremental Actions to Protect Water Quality and Public Health,” released in 2016.
Working Towards a 45% Reduction in Nutrient Loss
The main goal of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force is to reduce the average annual amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Gulf by 45%. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy has adopted this goal of 45% reduction of annual nitrogen and phosphorus loads. The Strategy outlines processes by which both nonpoint sources of nutrients—primarily agriculture—and point sources—wastewater treatments plants and industrial facilities—can contribute to this reduction goal.
The goal of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is to reduce annual nitrogen and phosphorus loss by 45%.
For nonpoint source reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus loss, the Strategy emphasizes the voluntary adoption of agricultural conservation practices that reduce the levels of nutrients that leave farm fields and enter nearby water bodies. For point source reductions, selected municipalities and industrial facilities evaluate their current nutrient reductions and assess the feasibility of upgrading nutrient treatment capacity.