Over the past 50 years, the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution entering the nation’s waters has increased dramatically, Nutrients have become one of our costliest and most challenging environmental problems. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus can have negative impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems, the economy and the quality of people’s lives.

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 developed over a 3-year period, from 2011 through 2014, and updated in 2018 and 2020. An internal workgroup, consisting of staff from the department’s Water Protection and Soil and Water Conservation programs, meets once every three months to discuss the progress being made toward Missouri’s strategy goals. There are many recommended actions listed in the strategy, making prioritization important for focusing our resources. Meetings are held in an effort to identify areas where coordination would be beneficial. The workgroup will produce a report every two years to communicate progress to the public.

Public Notices

The department is proposing amendments to 10 CSR 20-7.015, Effluent Regulations. The proposed rule amendment will implement statewide effluent limitations for Total Phosphorus. We anticipate accepting public comments on the proposed amendments from April 3, 2023 to May 15, 2023. More information will be provided when available. The department has tentatively scheduled a public hearing regarding the proposed amendments on May 4, 2023. For more information, please refer to the Proposed 10 CSR 20-7.015 Amendments Public Hearing notice.


Gulf Hypoxia Program

Missouri is one of 12 states within the Mississippi River/ Atchafalaya River Basin that are working alongside federal, tribal and university partners to address factors contributing to the Gulf Hypoxic Zone. Each partner state has developed and announced specific strategies that will be implemented over time using targeted federal funding. On Nov. 15, 2021, the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized the delivery of $60 million in federal funding over five years to states and tribes combatting the Gulf Hypoxic Zone. Missouri and its counterparts will use the funding to develop innovative approaches to reduce nutrient loading from their respective states. On Dec. 13, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Missouri $965,000 to kick off related projects in the state.

These projects represent the department’s diverse approach to furthering the goals of Missouri’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, bringing together adaptive approaches to reduce nutrient pollution from point and nonpoint sources. The overarching goal of these projects and the NLRS is to improve local water quality and reduce statewide nutrient pollution that ends up in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

Hypoxia Assistance Agreement Grant Project to Evaluate Nutrient Reduction from Soil and Water Conservation Program Practices

In 2019, the department was awarded a Hypoxia Assistance Agreement Grant from EPA to support components of Missouri's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. The department engaged Barr Engineering Company to conduct a quantitative assessment of nutrient mitigation associated with Missouri's investment in agricultural conservation practices. As part of a broader effort to develop a water quality trading framework, the project generated a standard operating procedure (SOP) for estimating nutrient load reductions from agricultural best management practices (BMPs) funded by the department's Soil and Water Conservation Program. The project specifically focused on nutrient loss reduction from five BMP categories with example estimates from two HUC 8 watersheds, the South Grand River (HUC 10290108) and South Fork Salt River (HUC 07110006), for state fiscal years 2015-19. Links to the SOP and example calculations for each watershed are provided below. The department will use this SOP to analyze additional watersheds, estimate the historical impacts of BMPs on nutrient mitigation, track progress toward Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy goals and evaluate the potential for nutrient trading based on credits generated by Soil and Water Conservation Program practices.

Water Quality Trading Standard Operating Procedures for Crediting Soil and Water Conservation Program Project Sites


Find information about our other efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in Missouri:

Missouri’s Water Quality Trading Framework Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force Soil and Water Conservation Program Water Quality Standards Nutrient Criteria Implementation Plan Cyanobacteria - Harmful Algal Blooms and Blue-Green Algae Information


James River Watershed Total Nitrogen Trading Framework (Restricted Trading Zone)

The department developed a holistic watershed-based permitting framework that will be used to achieve the Total Nitrogen target of the James River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). A watershed-based permitting approach facilitates Total Nitrogen nutrient reduction from point sources while establishing the potential for trading. The goal of this permitting framework is to establish a phased approach to achieve the TMDL target of 1.5 mg/L for Total Nitrogen in Galena, MO by: 1) establishing applicable facilities, 2) developing Total Nitrogen limitations and monitoring requirements, 3) developing permit special conditions to include Total Nitrogen allocations and 4) provide compliance options through nutrient trading and reporting. 

The department held a stakeholder meeting to discuss the framework on Oct. 24, 2022. For more information, review the James River Watershed Framework public meeting notice.

The department is inviting the public to review and offer written comments on the proposed framework. For more information, review the James River Watershed Total Nitrogen Permitting Framework Public Comment Period notice.

Point and Nonpoint Source Nutrient Baselines

Baselines for total phosphorous and total nitrogen can be used to visualize the variability of past nutrient loading in Missouri and 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 prior years

These methods set the 1996 baselines at 5,237 tons total phosphorous and 17,422 tons total nitrogen for point sources and 17,381 tons total phosphorous and 144,115 tons total nitrogen for nonpoint sources. The department intends to provide annual estimates of statewide nutrient loading for the purpose of measuring 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 over time. Missouri's Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Nutrient Baselines report provides a more detailed report covering the methods used to establish nutrient baselines.

Total Phosphorus Rule and Missouri Nutrient Trading Program

The department hosted a series of stakeholder meetings to introduce proposed amendments to wastewater effluent regulations and introduce the Missouri Nutrient Trading Program. The proposed amendments to 10 CSR 20-7.015(9)(B)2 are designed to incorporate requirements for nutrient reduction targets for all domestic point sources with a design flow of ≥1MGD and all industrial facilities categorized as Major that typically discharge phosphorus in their industrial wastewater. These amendments are intended to advance implementing Missouri’s Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. 

The department also is developing the Missouri Nutrient Trading Program. This program incorporates the most up to date policy guidance supplied by EPA with regards to nutrient trading. It refines many of the policy positions initially explored in the Missouri Water Quality Trading Framework of 2016. The meetings were held April 22, 2022. Follow the links below for more details:

Updated September 2022

The regulatory impact report (RIR) for proposed revisions to this rule was available for public review and comment Sept. 23, 2022 to Nov. 21, 2022.

Updated August 2022

Draft 10 CSR 20-7.015 Rule Text Draft 10 CSR 20-7.015 Rule Text Redline Total Phosphorus Paragraph

Other Information

Total Phosphorus Rulemaking Stakeholder Meeting Presentation, April 22, 2022