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.

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

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 is now available for public review and comment until Nov. 21, 2022. For more information, review the 10 CSR 20-7.015 Effluent Regulations public notice.

Updated August 2022

Other Information

Missouri's 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.


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

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 or stay informed.

You can also email us at cleanwater@dnr.mo.gov. We would love to hear from you!