Nutrient loss reduction strategy

Over the past 50 years, the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants entering the nation’s waters has increased. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can have negative impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems through algal blooms and the economy and the quality of people’s lives. Nutrient pollution has become one of our costliest and most challenging environmental problem.

Representatives from state agricultural, environmental and natural resource organizations formed a committee to develop recommendations for reducing nutrient loads to surface water and groundwater in Missouri. Through an open, consensus-building process, Missouri’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy was finalized in 2014. In 2018, the department began issuing progress updates every two years, outlining Missouri's progress towards the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy goals.

Initially, an internal workgroup consisting of team members from the department’s Water Protection and Soil and Water Conservation programs, was formed to discuss the progress being made toward Missouri’s strategy goals. The workgroup has now expanded to include members from the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Fertilizer Control Board and National Resources Conservation Service. The department plans to further expand the workgroup, opening the conversation to non-governmental stakeholders. There are many recommended actions listed in the strategy, making prioritization important for focusing our resources. Meetings are held to coordinate efforts and identify opportunities for collaboration. 

Get Involved 

We discuss water quality topics, including nutrient pollution, at our quarterly Water Protection Forum meetings. You may visit in person or watch the live stream to provide input and stay informed. If you would like meeting notifications you can sign up using the green "Get Updates" button on the forum webpage. You can also email us at

Public Notices/ Public Comments

There are no currently active Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Public Notices/ Public Comments.

Nutrient Baselines

Point and nonpoint source baselines for total phosphorous and total nitrogen can be used to visualize the variability of past nutrient loading in Missouri. These baselines also set values that future nutrient loading can be measured against. Two approaches were used to estimate long-term trends of nutrient loading in Missouri:

  • Modeled approach for years with available data (2021 for point source; 2012-2017 for nonpoint source)
  • Extrapolated approach for previous years

These methods set the 1996 baselines at the following values:

  • Point sources: 5,237 tons total phosphorous and 17,422 tons total nitrogen
  • Nonpoint sources: 17,381 tons total phosphorous and 144,115 tons total nitrogen

The department intends to provide annual estimates of statewide nutrient loading in order to measure progress towards Hypoxia Task Force and other water quality goals. The department intends to revise and improve methods for calculating annual statewide nutrient loading using the best available data and tools as they become available. The nutrient baseline report provided below gives a more detailed report of the methods used to establish nutrient baselines.

Ongoing Projects

  • ​​​​​Gulf Hypoxia Program
    • Nutrient Reduction Progress Tracking Dashboard
    • Expansion of Missouri’s Ambient Nutrient Monitoring
    • Missouri Municipal Wastewater Nutrient Optimization Pilot
    • Gulf Hypoxia Outreach and Education
    • Refining Nutrient Reduction Models with Subsurface Nutrient Transport Measurement 
  • Missouri Nutrient Trading Program
    • James River Watershed Total Nitrogen Permitting Framework
    • Total Phosphorous Rule

Other Efforts