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EPA Announces Strategy to Protect Water Quality by Accelerating Nutrient Pollution Reductions

Apr 04, 2022

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water, Radhika Fox, released a new policy memorandum on Accelerating Nutrient Pollution Reductions in the Nation’s Waters. This memo reaffirms EPA’s commitment to working with federal agencies, state co-regulators, Tribes, water stakeholders, and the agricultural community to advance progress in reducing excess nutrients in our nations waters.

“Nutrient pollution is one of America's most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems,”  said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “At the same time, promising innovations, creative partnerships, holistic One Water solutions, and unprecedented opportunities to invest in clean and safe water through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have the potential to rapidly accelerate progress on nutrient pollution. Our nutrients memo is a call for scaling up the innovative approaches being used by farmers, ranchers, water agencies, local municipalities, industry, and communities to make progress.”

In the memo issued today, EPA commits to deepening existing partnerships and fostering new collaboratives with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), states, Tribes, territories, agriculture, industry, and the broader water sector. The agency will support innovation and pursue science-based and data-driven strategies to reduce excess nutrients in our nations waters. Critically, EPA will also provide technical assistance and other support to help states, Tribes, and territories scale effective nutrient loss reduction strategies. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provides dedicated resources to accelerate efforts, such as the work happening through the Gulf Hypoxia Taskforce on state nutrient reduction strategies. EPA will also continue to evolve and implement the Clean Water Act regulatory framework to holistically address nutrient pollution.

“Through voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs, USDA helps agricultural producers improve the timing and application method of nutrients, which supports food and fiber production while also reducing the impacts on the environment,” said Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie.  “USDA is proud to partner with EPA, farmers, ranchers and others to reduce excess nutrients in America’s waters. Effective nutrient management not only improves plant health and productivity, but also reduces excess nutrients in surface and ground water as well as emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.”

“In Wisconsin, we are dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to clean, safe water. Nitrates in our drinking water and other nutrient pollution impacts Wisconsin residents every day,” said Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Preston Cole. “Wisconsin welcomes EPA’s commitment to partnering with states and with agriculture to tackle the challenge of nutrient pollution. We also appreciate the leverage that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offers to address nutrient pollution from a variety of sources. The strategies outlined in EPA’s nutrients memo will help all of us make progress to protect public health and our Nation’s waters.”

Additionally, under this policy memo, EPA will prioritize nutrient pollution reduction, treatment, and mitigation activities that help protect public health and the environment in our most vulnerable communities. Disadvantaged communities across the country disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental impacts from nutrient pollution and lack the resources to address these issues on their own.

View EPA’s memo at: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-policy-data/2022-epa-nutrient-reduction-memorandum.

Learn more about EPA’s efforts to address excess nutrients at: https://www.epa.gov/nutrient-policy-data.

Background

Nutrient pollution is a continuing and growing challenge with profound implications for public health, water quality, and the economy. In a changing climate, the complexity and severity of the problem is increasing. Nutrients are the most widespread stressor impacting rivers and streams.  Fifty eight percent of the nation’s rivers and streams and 45% of our lakes have excess levels of phosphorus. About two-thirds of the nation's coastal areas and more than one-third of the nation's estuaries are impaired by nutrients. 

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